Call to use disposed army bases for affordable housing

Andy Wightman
Andy Wightman

Scottish Ministers have been urged to intervene in the proposed sell-off of Scottish defence sites to ensure the land is used to help tackle the country’s affordable housing shortage.

The UK government this week announced plans to sell off almost a tenth of its defence sites including Glencorse Barracks in Midlothian, Redford Barracks in Edinburgh, and bases in Stirling.

Defence secretary Michael Fallon said the Ministry of Defence (MoD) now plans to dispose of 56 more defence sites worth up to £1 billion by 2040, with the estate currently too large and costly to maintain, in addition to the 35 sites which it had previously announced.

The MoD owns around 1,000 sites in total, 91 of which will be sold off.

Eight of the sites to be sold are in Scotland, including Fort George, an 18th-century fort which currently accommodates soldiers from the Black Watch.

During a statement to MSPs at Holyrood on the issue, Andy Wightman, housing spokesperson for the Scottish Greens and MSP for Lothian, urged Scottish Ministers to work with the MoD to transfer any affected land into local control to guarantee its use for community benefit.

In the past, unions have been critical of MoD land being sold on the cheap and without guarantees that developers would build affordable homes.

Mr Wightman added: “There is an opportunity for the Scottish Government to ensure that these sites end up in local council or community control. Redford and Glencorse are not due to close as barracks for many years to come, so transition planning for community use can start now.

“Scotland has a housing crisis so these sites could play a part in providing genuinely affordable homes. As well as affordable homes, these sites could provide community facilities and much-needed business units for small firms to help support the local economy.”

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