Army targets new Lothian HQ

A NEW multi-million pound headquarters is being planned for the Army in Scotland, it was announced today.

The complex will be built by the Ministry of Defence in the grounds of its existing home at Craigiehall, near South Queensferry.

An office complex built on the estate in the 1960s will be demolished and replaced with a brand new development on an adjacent site within the grounds.

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MoD chiefs have lodged a planning application with the city council after ruling out an overhaul of the existing three-storey building - home to Headquarters 2nd Division - which has "reached its sell-by date".

More than 250 staff, a mixture of civilian and uniformed Army personnel, are based at Craigiehall, which has been the administrative home of the Army in Scotland and the north of England since 2000.

Waterson Burnett Architects, the Edinburgh-based firm which has drawn up the plans with the MoD, has just lodged an application for the new complex.

It is hoped work could get underway within 12 months, subject to planning permission, with the entire scheme taking around two years to complete.

The existing building at Craigiehall, where the MoD has had a continuous presence since 1939, was built inside a former walled garden, which would be fully restored into a recreation space under the plans.

Alistair Burnett, a partner with the architects, said the existing building was "technically deficient".

He added: "To maintain the commitment of the Army in Scotland there is an urgent need to replace this building with an office of modern and appropriate standard."

The estate includes A-listed Craigiehall House, which dates back to 1699, and has a major extension which was added by the Army in the mid-1950s. It is currently home to the officers' mess.

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Mr Burnett said the new two-storey building would have a minimal impact on the setting of the country house and would be much more environmentally-friendly than the existing building.

A spokeswoman for the Army in Scotland said: "HQ 2nd Division is the main Army administration base in Scotland and looks after all regular and territorial army units in Scotland and northern England, accommodating both military and civilian personnel.

"The present office accommodation was built in the 1960s and was designed to last approximately 30 years. Technical and specialist studies carried out in the 1990s identified that major upgrades would have to take place to bring the building in line with current fire regulations, health and safety requirements and disability legislation.

"Over the years, the costs of repairs have been high and failure to comply with current regulations and MoD mandatory requirements would lead to the eventual closure of the building. Costs for temporary accommodation would also be substantial. The building has merely reached its sell-by date and needs replaced."

Councillors are expected to rule on the MoD's planning application within the next few months.

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