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Army camp could become housing estate

By This is Exeter  |  Posted: June 11, 2009

  • WHERE NOW? Children from Holywell School on the Junior Life Skills scheme enjoyed their time at Fremington Army Camp.

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FREMINGTON Army Camp could become a housing estate with 200 homes after the military facility closes in the autumn, a planning document confirms.

According to the North Devon Local Plan, which was adopted in July 2006, development will be permitted at the camp for a "range of uses" including 200 dwellings, including at least 50 affordable homes.

Offices, light industry and recreational open space could also appear on the 35 acre site near the Taw estuary.

The local plan states: "If the site does become available during the plan period, a development brief will be required to ensure the Army camp is comprehensively redeveloped with a mix of residential, business, recreational and community uses.

"The redevelopment of the site should ensure that the existing playing fields are retained with the land to the north of the camp incorporated for recreational purposes and made available for the whole community."

There would also need to be pedestrian and cycle links, a bus stop, and contributions for extra capacity at Fremington School or help to pay for a new school at Instow. But any development is unlikely to happen in the near future; with house building at a virtual standstill, developers are battling to sell existing new homes, never mind building new estates.

Accommodation at the Second World War training camp is due to close in October.

Army spokesman, David Harris said the site was "worn out and had come to the end of its economic life".

Troops will continue to train on Braunton Burrows while using Okehampton army camp as their base — a 70-mile round trip.

The Army said nine staff are under consultation about redundancies and three employees might be able to relocate to RAF St Mawgan in Cornwall.

Workers at the camp have disputed the Army's claim that only nine jobs will be lost and that there are a number of decrepit wooden huts.

A number of employees, none of whom would be named, said that 21 jobs would in fact be lost, including 12 catering roles, and that the huts were block built and not wooden.

One Ministry of Defence worker claimed the huts needed refurbishment but were not beyond repair.

Mike Sim, senior supervisor at Costcutter in Fremington, just opposite the entrance to the camp, said: "We get quite a few soldiers from the camp come here to buy things like energy drinks, food and a lot of cosmetics like shower gel and toothpaste.

"We also get a lot of trade from young Cadets that use the site. We will certainly notice a difference in trade when the camp goes. There are enough people in Fremington to sustain the business but it would definitely make a dent."

Amanda Wycherley who helps organise the Junior Life Skills scheme at the camp was also concerned.

She said: "The scheme takes in Year 6 pupils from across North Devon and teaches them things like fire safety, first aid and recycling practices.

"We have been holding these at Fremington Army Camp for the past five years. It is the ideal location for these events because it is a secure site with large open areas.

"If the camp shuts we will have to go elsewhere but I don't know where. It is rather inconvenient and there will also be cost implications."

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    Sandra Bower, Norfolk  |  July 09 2009, 12:12PM

    With the housing market being in the state it is, why not turn the old camp site into a mass training camp for our up and coming athletes who are on the 'edge' of qualifying for the 2012 Olympics. This could act as a trial for future Olympics. We need to do something desperate and this could be it!!

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    Ed, North Devon  |  June 26 2009, 3:14PM

    It should be given to North Devon Homes modest family homes built eg one bathroom and basics to keep costs down and then let to people who cannot afford to purchase

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    Will Wallace, devon  |  June 26 2009, 3:00PM

    It's going to be a very sad day when the camp closes, not only do the Army, Navy and Air Force use the camp on a very regular basis as well as the local orgainisations, Devon and Somerset Air Training Corps use the site on at least a bi monthly basis and have just opened a wing unit there, these cadets with now have to travel to Cornwall or even Dorset! to find the type of facitities that can be found on the camp and can accomodate over 300 personnel at one time, this seams to be short sited penny pinching form the higher command not bearing in mind the extra money that will have to be paid out in travel expenses.

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    Mark, Devon  |  June 26 2009, 10:10AM

    I think it should stay the way it is as all it needs is a bit of paint and a little work here and there, I've been trained there as a cadet and then went on to train others as an adult to give them the opportunities i got as a teenager, the cadets we teach learn a lot while there that help them in later life and to be honest i think that more teenagers would benefit from such an experince and would learn to have a bit more respect, disicpline and pride in themselves and what their doing

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    Linda, Exeter  |  June 26 2009, 8:01AM

    Although it is undisputed that housing is needed for many, it will be a sad day when Fremington Training Camp closes its doors. The facility has ensured thousands of adults and children from both military and civilian backgrounds have been able to train in a safe and functional environment. For many organisations the logistics of finding another suitable training base in a more distant location will mean fees will rise and some courses may no longer take place. Given the current housing market conditions I wonder how long the site will remain derelict ,and therefore open to vandalism and misuse, before a developer has the right planning permissions, Section 106's and funding to commence such a project?

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    The B, Devon  |  June 17 2009, 8:24AM

    They should make it an entire build of AFFORDABLE housing, not a pathetic percentage, say 4%. Why don't the council buy it and develop, like in the old days, rather than commercial companies that just rip the a** for $$$$

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    localascowdoo, Locally  |  June 13 2009, 9:39PM

    Ha.....I could write the script! Of course they want to overload Devon with even more residents.....they can make money out of it!

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    mick, Yelland  |  June 11 2009, 11:30AM

    Affordable Housing, it is a glib remark from politicians. Can they please define an affordable house, one at £20 grand?