Army unveils urban fighting centre proposals for Catterick Garrison

Soldiers practising urban fighting skills. Picture: MOD.

Plans to create a centre for soldiers to hone their urban fighting skills have been unveiled as part of a drive to improve military facilities at Catterick Garrison ahead of 50 per cent more troops moving to the British Army’s largest base.

The Ministry of Defence has lodged an application to build a 1,200sq metre “single-storey portal framed structure” to recreate urban environments at the Infantry Training Centre’s headquarters in Vimy Barracks.

The documents state as part of an overhaul of the Army, which has seen a cut in the number of bases and an increase in UK-based troops, core sites will need improved facilities to deliver training requirements.

Catterick Garrison is one the North’s core sites and steps have been taken to turn it into a “super garrison”, with two Strike Brigades being based there. Personnel will rise to 8,400 – an increase of 2,700 over the next 14 years. Units were scheduled to begin moving to and from Catterick this year and construction has been planned to start at individual barracks next year.

In addition, every serviceman and woman, on average, has 2.1 dependents, so that means an additional 5,700 wives, partners and children living in Catterick Garrison, making it one of the fastest growing towns in the country.

The Infantry Training Centre sees about 5,000 soldiers pass through every year, including the Parachute Regiment, machine-gunners and drummers. It has some 800 permanent staff, both military and civilian.

The application states the scale of the proposed structure has been governed by the need to accommodate a set number training within the building.

It states: “On average 30 people will be using the training elements of the building, with several additional directing staff also to be accommodated for in this proposal. MOD guidance stipulates the size and number of the ancillary rooms that is required to provide a sufficient service for the required number of users.”

While the application states the building has the potential to be occupied at any hour of the day, and during winter months this will mean the site is illuminated, the proposed development would mostly be screened by surrounding buildings. [kofi]