The redevelopment of the former RAF Lyneham base has come a step closer with a £121m joint venture contract to build a new technical training college on behalf of the Ministry of Defence.
The contract has been awarded to construction and engineering groups Kier and Balfour Beatty, who will now work through a 50:50 joint venture called Hercules after the Lockheed C-130 military transporter planes which were based for decades at Lyneham.
The Defence College of Technical Training will provide training facilities in one location for all three Armed Forces – the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force – for the first time in the UK.
The scheme will provide single living accommodation for more than 1,100 trainees, purpose-built teaching facilities and a large outdoor training area. Much of the work will comprise upgrading and refurbishing existing buildings.
The scheme also includes a public museum and a new home for the Army’s Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME).
The contract has been awarded by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), which manages and maintains land and property on behalf of the MoD.
DIO project leader David Holmes said: “This state-of-the-art tri-service facility will help us to support the Armed Forces by providing the best possible training facilities as they prepare for operations.”
Hercules has committed to working with two organisations, the Forces Career Transition Partnership and Enterprise Works, which help ex-services personnel and those who have been injured to find employment – and to employing ex-military personnel to help deliver the scheme.
Kier Group chief operating officer Steve Bowcott added: “This contract is a welcome affirmation of Kier’s approach in providing added value and innovative solutions to challenging projects.
“Our experience gained in previous MoD contracts not only allows us to provide a transformational facility to the Defence Infrastructure Organisation at Lyneham, but will also help support the MoD in its delivery of vital training to our armed forces.
“We are delighted to be able to bring employment opportunities to a town that has given enormous support to our forces.”
Work will commence on site early next year and is scheduled for completion in autumn 2015, when the first students and staff will arrive at the new college. At its peak the project will employ 900 people.
Activity at RAF Lyneham was wound down over a long period with the final Hercules leaving on July 1, 2011 as part of the transfer of flight operations to Brize Norton in Oxfordshire. The base, best known in recent years for the repatriation of British personnel killed in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, was closed when the last personnel left in December last year.