The closure of Maidstone’s Invicta Park Barracks has been delayed by two years, to 2029, under Ministry of Defence plans for a radical transformation programme - ‘Future Soldier’ published yesterday.
The decision to close the Barracks initially came as part of the Defence Estate Optimisation Programme, first announced in 2016. But the closure came under fire from local groups and campaigners, led by Helen Grant, MP for Maidstone and the Weald.
Upon receiving the news Helen said: ‘I welcome this pause because it provides more time to carefully further review and re-assess the impact this will have on our County Town. It will affect the families and serving soldiers of both 36 Engineers and, in particular, the Queens Gurkha Engineers, whom are intrinsically linked with our much-loved and respected local Nepalese community. The effect of the regiment’s relocation upon them could be far-reaching, if not devastating’.
‘We must also consider the effects of a possible 1300 more houses that are proposed for this site and the economic and cultural effects upon the town if the facilities do eventually close. 8 years is a long time, however, and much could change in favour of retaining Invicta Park Barracks during that period’.
Mrs Grant supports the strategy that the Ministry of Defence is taking to modernise the Army and to tackle rapidly evolving global threats. She believes, however, that the Invicta Park Barracks is a unique case and must be treated as such.