The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has revealed plans to build more than 19,700sq m of buildings at Catterick Village’s Marne Barracks to support a regiment it is relocating from a long-established Army base in Ripon.
Agents for the MoD have asked Richmondshire District Council whether it will need to undertake extensive studies over the environmental impact of redeveloping part of the 66-hectare Marne site by constructing numerous facilities to accommodate 21 Engineer Regiment (21RRE) after it leaves Claro Barracks.
If the council were to conclude a full Environmental Impact Assessment is necessary it could lead to a significant delay to the project which the MoD wants to accelerate.
Documents submitted to the planning authority state the regiment had initially been due to move to there under sweeping reforms of the Army’s estate, but the scheme at Marne Barracks was “now to progress as a discrete project
due to the importance of the 21RRE move”.
Councillors say the MoD has sanctioned the move as part of plans to focus the capabilities and response of a strike brigade as well as achieving cost savings.
The proposed development is for a mixture of new living, technical and leisure accommodation, all set within the existing 25 security gates and fence line of Marne Barracks, which was built as an RAF base in the 1920s and is now largely a redundant airfield.
The development will feature new residential areas, amenity and welfare buildings, education and training facilities, offices, stores, workshop space, garages and parking.
The papers highlight there are a significant number of buildings already on the barracks, including living and technical accommodation, which are set to be revamped.
They state when completed, the proposed technical and living accommodation would be managed to reduce environmental effects, such as by introducing “effective recycling measures”.
The document concludes the proposed development would not result in significant adverse environmental effects.
However, the papers point to potential concerns for archaeological remains buried at Bainesse Roman settlement and Anglian Cemetery and Castle Hills scheduled monuments in the area.
Nevertheless, the agents state the sites were assessed as part of a previous plan for Marne Barracks approved seven years ago, which did not raise a red flag.
The document states a study to identify if there are any archaeological features in the proposed working area would be undertaken, and but as a significant proportion of the area has previously been developed it was expected the potential for archaeological remains to exist in the areas to be low.
Catterick Garrison councillor Kevin Foster, who pressed the council into declaring a climate emergency three years ago, said the MoD was doing a good job of overseeing environmentally-friendly developments on brownfield sites in the area.
He said while the plan would involve a large amount of building the Army was showing the way to produce carbon neutral developments, with nearly all their buildings featuring air source heat pumps and solar panels, which developers elsewhere were still refusing to follow.
The Green councillor said: “Marne Barracks has always been a wasted area and it is ideal for that sort of regiment because they have huge vehicles that need housing properly.”