Don Foster MP

News

Don questions Defence Minister over Ensleigh MOD site sale advert

November 10, 2023 by admin in Don in Bath, Don in Parliament, News

Don Foster MP has written to the Defence Minister, Andrew Robathan MP requesting an explanation as to why the Ensleigh MOD site is being advertised as a “prime Bath development opportunity”.

The advert appears to contradict assurances given by the Minister to both Don and Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, that the MOD would work in close conjunction with B&NES Council before deciding the fate of the site.

You can read Don’s letter in full here:

Dear Andrew,

MoD land sale, Bath

I am writing to express concern that the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) appears to be acting contrary to an undertaking that you gave to Jacob Rees-Mogg MP and me.

You will recall that in June 2011 Jacob and I discussed with you the planned disposal of the remaining MoD sites in Bath.

I reminded you of the undertaking that I had already received from the PM (at PMQs) that the MOD would work with my local Council (B&NES) and HCA to secure the re-use of the MOD sites in Bath and address local housing needs.

On 7th July you wrote to us confirming your decision to relocate remaining MOD staff from Bath to Abbey Wood by March 2013. However, you gave the following assurance;

“I am mindful of the need to support the local economy through this change and minimise any long term impact. MOD officials have already met with local Councillors and it has been agreed that the Defence Infrastructure Organisation and the Homes & Communities Agency will continue to work with you to identify and agree (my emphasis) an optimal solution for the future use of the Bath sites “

On 1st September you wrote to the Council stating;

” the Bath Sites Working Group provides the right forum through which the MOD and other stakeholders can work together on the disposal and redevelopment of the Bath sites”

It continued :

” I remain committed to the process of engagement. The DIO will work closely with you and the HCA on this important issue. (my emphasis) They will also work constructively with you on the wider issue of the Core Strategy and will ensure that any plans for affordable housing on the sites reflect the Council’s Housing Need Survey and draft Core Strategy document”

In light of the above, I was surprised to have my attention drawn to an advertisement (copy attached) placed by GVA on instructions from DIO which offers for sale some 1.7ha of land at “South Ensleigh”. The advertisement claims that this is a “rare opportunity for a development site in a high value area of Bath” and says it has the “potential for residential or commercial development, subject to planning.”

The offer for sale, before any agreement has been reached with either the Council or HCA on the overall approach to the redevelopment of the MOD land and in the absence of any prior community engagement, appears to totally contradict the assurances you have given.

I will welcome your comments and look forward to hearing from you.