The 34 acre site was home to the Ministry of Defence’s UK Army Headquarters since 1939. By 2010, the buildings were no longer fit for purpose and all staff relocated to Andover leaving the site derelict.
In late 2010, the MOD obtained planning consent to build 450 residential units (including 40% social housing) and a further 24,000 sq m of land for B1 use. In order to gain use of the bridge that ran across the site, the MOD entered into negotiations with Network Rail. This delayed the Section 106 agreement until 2012.
The site went to formal tender in February 2013, and was obtained by Redrow in March 2013.
Redrow made the decision to reconsider the current planning consent and engage with the community before putting plans together for the site. This came with a number of challenges, such as managing all stakeholders throughout the process, considering all suggestions and recommendations as well as analysing their feasibility.
The Council were heavily under-resourced and unfamiliar with this type of planning application. With the added pressure of housing 65,000 veterans across Wiltshire, this scheme was under additional scrutiny to ensure it helped the Council meet its objectives.
Redrow appointed Terence O’Rourke planning consultants, as well as Our Enterprise, specialists in veteran’s accommodation, to work with them to re-evaluate the use of the site. In July 2013, a 3 month public consultation began with an onsite exhibition, opening the gates to the public. A total of 6 events were held with all relevant stakeholders, including Wiltshire Council, and Wilton Community Land Trust who represented the residents of Wilton. The events included transport and sustainability considerations for integrating the site into the town, and sustainability/green issues.
Following this in-depth public consultation, Redrow submitted a new planning application in October 2013 for a total of 442 units. This included 292 residential units of apartments and houses, a 60 bed veterans care home, a 40 room facility to care for veterans suffering from physical and mental disability, and a 30 bed facility with short-term accommodation for veterans returning from duty in need of training and counselling. Further to this, Redrow submitted consent for a 20,000 sq ft business centre with 1.5 acres remaining for employment use.
In recognition of the fact that Redrow is subsidising the veterans' accommodation the percentage of general needs for affordable housing was reduced to 10%.
Redrow also set up meeting with Wiltshire College and the Construction Industry Training Board to develop courses to retrain veterans into the local workforce.
Section 106 Agreement has seen £4.5m of funding into the local area including primary and secondary education, transport, and public open space. Redrow also set up funding for the business centre where all income raised will be held by the Wilton Community Land Trust and redistributed into the community.
From the outset Redrow realised that this site provided a genuine opportunity to deliver a scheme that will create a balanced community, integrate in to the existing town of Wilton, and deliver a high degree of self-determination and pride in their completed surroundings.
Redrow successfully achieved planning permission for this unique structure in just 6 months. Due to the high level of public consultation and community involvement, the Council received zero objections to the proposed plans.
The site will be built in two phases, featuring Redrow’s Heritage Collection at the North end of the site, and the Regent Collection in the South.
The local MP, John Glen, has been very involved and supportive throughout the process and will be present at the site launch in late 2014.
The site is expected to create a total of 500 jobs for the local area.