Personnel occupying single living accommodation (SLA) in the UK can expect higher quality properties and improved levels of maintenance, the Army’s head of infrastructure plans has said.
Some £450m is to be spent upgrading Army SLA over the next ten years, which will see nearly 4,000 bed spaces built from scratch and 1,100 refurbished by 2031.
Providing no changes are made as part of the Future Soldier restructure, the first batch is due to be completed in 2024 (see below). And in a move that will be music to many soldiers’ ears, a new maintenance contract is also on its way.
“Improving SLA is the chief of the general staff’s number one infrastructure priority at the moment,” explained Brigadier Richard Brown. “We are working hard with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation to raise the standard of all our 55,000 SLA properties. “We are undertaking construction in waves and some accommodation will have to be refurbished at heritage or constrained sites, such as Victoria Barracks in Windsor. “Our buildings should have a 60-year life but a number of them are older so we are refurbishing them to make them more sustainable with lower running costs – something we’re doing across the Army in line with government direction.”
The new maintenance contract is much closer to the one that is currently only enjoyed at Colchester’s and Salisbury Plain’s private finance initiative sites. It includes planned, preventative maintenance as well as fix-on-fail, so issues can be tackled more quickly. Extra services can also be purchased if troops are left completely stuck.
Brigadier Brown continued: “When it comes to the serious matter of hot water or heating failing, for instance, we have a mechanism where within 24 hours we can hire, off-contract, a boiler or generator to plug into the accommodation. “To achieve this we are installing stubs to connect a boiler into the building and special ‘commando sockets’ to plug in a hired generator. In remote parts of the country we have pre-positioned supplies of boilers and generators to ensure we can get them plugged in within one day.”
The maintenance overhaul follows the creation of kitchenettes and snack preparation areas in many SLA blocks.
By 2023 more than 3,000 utility rooms or other spaces at existing sites will have been converted and Service personnel can still request this work through their chain of command.
Where is Being Upgraded?
- 1,026 properties by the end of 2024 at:
- Palace Barracks, N. Ireland (254).
- Kinloss, Moray (68).
- Beacon Barracks, Stafford (72).
- Imjin Barracks, Gloucester (46).
- Trenchard Lines, Upavon (202).
- Victoria Barracks, Windsor (384).
- Around 1,000 bed spaces by 2029 across:
- St George’s Barracks, Bicester.
- Infantry Training Centre, Catterick.
- Baker Barracks, Thorney Island.
- Kendrew Barracks, Cottesmore.
- Weeton Barracks, Blackpool.
- 2,800 units by 2031:
- Sites to be confirmed.
Soldier. (2021) Singles Thrown A Line. Soldier: Magazine of the British Army. August 2021, pp.13.