Norfolk army base could be redeveloped into 400 new homes

Robertson Barracks at Swanton Morley.

Robertson Barracks at Swanton Morley - Credit: Matthew Usher

A military barracks could be redeveloped into a new Norfolk community, including a mooted 400 homes and a range of businesses. 

The project would take place at Robertson Barracks in Swanton Morley, near Dereham - which is planned to be disposed of by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) by 2029.  

The troops stationed at the base - the 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards - will relocate to Wales from 2028.

An MOD spreadsheet lists the facility as being suitable for 400 homes - despite its size of 165 hectares in theory being large enough for significantly more than that.

The idea to redevelop the facility into homes was also mentioned in the Town Delivery Plan for Dereham, a consultant-produced report commissioned by Breckland Council last year.

A page of the report is dedicated to the barracks’ future. It says that the facility’s disposal presents “a clear opportunity to develop a new community once it is no longer operational”.

It continues: “Analysis undertaken by the MOD indicates that there is potential to provide significant new homes, and new commercial space that can support hundreds of businesses and jobs.

The Prince of Wales, Colonel-in-Chief, 1st The Queen's Dragoons Guards, visited The Robertson Barrac

The 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards, who are stationed at Robertson Barracks in Swanton Morley until 2028 - Credit: Ian Burt

“Given its proximity to Dereham the development could help to address needs relating to housing, employment and infrastructure.”

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As an example of a similar scheme, the document refers to Kings Hill in Kent, where more than 3,500 homes have been built on the former West Malling Airfield in a multi-phase redevelopment which began in 1990. 

A new business park has also been created at King’s Hill, with one million square feet of commercial floorspace, three new schools and 23 retail units.

The report states: “While the community is a self-contained village, it was carefully designed to complement and not compete with West Malling town centre and to enhance provision of local services (e.g. schools, GP surgeries etc) rather than increase pressure on the existing offer.”

In a recent update to Swanton Morley residents, local parish and district councillor Roger Atterwill said the Defence Infrastructure Organisation was already engaging with Breckland Council about Robertson Barracks’ future. 

Breckland councillor and Swanton Morley Parish Council chairman, Roger Atterwill, is concerned about

Breckland councillor and Swanton Morley Parish Council chairman, Roger Atterwill. - Credit: Breckland District Council

Mr Atterwill said the issue of the bases’ closure, and what happens to it afterwards, would be “the defining issue for our community over the next 20 years, as plans are developed and construction work is completed”.

An MOD spokeswoman said: “We continue to liaise with the local authority on potential plans for the site, which will be shared during the future public consultation phase.”