Published: 15:39, 26 November 2021
| Updated: 16:01, 26 November 2021
Invicta Park Barracks in Maidstone has been given a reprieve.
Back in 2016, when the Government published its Defence Estate Optimisation Programme, it said the barracks would close in 2027.
However now the Ministry of Defence has published an updated transformation policy for the Armed Forces called Future Soldier and says the closure would be delayed by two years until 2029.
The barracks opened in 1965 and is home to 36 Engineer Regiment and the Queen's Gurkha Engineers.
The news was welcomed by Maidstone and The Weald MP Helen Grant who has been campaigning against the County Town losing its barracks.
She said: "I welcome this pause because it provides more time to carefully further review and re-assess the impact the closure of the barracks will have on our County Town.
"It will affect the families and serving soldiers of both 36 Engineer and, in particular, the Queens Gurkha Engineers, whom are intrinsically linked with our much-loved and respected local Nepalese community."
She said: "The effect of the regiment’s relocation upon them could be far-reaching, if not devastating.
"We must also consider the effects of a possible 1,300 more houses that are proposed for this site and the economic and cultural effects upon the town if the facilities do eventually close.
"Eight years is a long time. Mould change in favour of retaining Invicta Park Barracks during that period."
However, as Mr Grant alludes to, the announcement will be less welcome to Maidstone Borough Council. It is relying on the availability of the barracks site to provide 1,300 homes as part of its Local Plan Review which is currently out to consultation.
The council had been asking the MoD to speed up its disposal.