RAF airbase will be new defence college
PLANS for a new £230m defence college of technical training at the former RAF Lyneham airbase have been given the go-ahead, with building work set to begin early next year.
The plans, expected to create 1,700 jobs at the site, have been granted permission despite concerns from nearby residents over an increase in noise and traffic.
The MoD must submit an operational noise management plan for approval to Wiltshire Council before the site can be used, and abide by a long string of planning conditions.
These include timing restrictions on the use of the firing range and an area where students will test the brakes of armoured vehicles, as well as a restriction on aircraft to operate no more than three days a week.
Wiltshire councillor for Lyneham, Alison Bucknell, said she was relieved to see the planning application go through, although the building work would bring its own problems.
She said: “The planning conditions will satisfy people to an extent, but they won’t satisfy people who wanted no noise at all.
“The key thing is to make sure the noise management plan is robust and achievable.
“While the construction is happening there will be heavy goods vehicles going through the village. There’s no alternative, so it’s a case of managing the situation and in doing that there must be good lines of communication.”
Students at the site will receive training for electronic and mechanical engineering, in aeronautical engineering or in communication and information systems.
Building work will be carried out in two stages. Tranche one will take up 150,000sqm of the site and tranche two will take up an additional 150,000sqm.
Earlier this year, a contract notice was published naming three firms that were shortlisted to take on full responsibility for the delivery of the project.
These were Skanska, Balfour Beatty and Keir, and Babcock International and Lendlease.
A successful applicant has been chosen but has not been named yet.
Hilmarton parish councillor Jeff Files worked as an aircraft technician at Lyneham until it closed and now works at Brize Norton on the Hercules planes.
He said: “I think it’s a positive move and I’m glad that it’s going to be used and remain active.
“The noise that was being generated when RAF Lyneham used to be active was far exceeding what they’re going to have now.
“When RAF Lyneham was active it had people practicing for deployment on the other side of the airfield but, because it wasn’t something that went through planning permission, people weren’t aware of it.”
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