Armed forces officials join fight to save army cadet base
PUBLISHED: 13:36 05 December 2019 | UPDATED: 13:36 05 December 2019
Norfolk armed forces officials have added their voices to opposition to a housing development that could put the future of a popular youth army cadet group in doubt.
Norfolk Armed Forces Commissioner Kevin Pellatt and Major Bob Gibbs, executive officer of Norfolk Army Cadet Force, have both written to South Norfolk Council to object to the plans for land off Station Hill in Harleston.
Kentford-based Code Development Planners wants to build 40 new dwellings on the three acre former builders' yard but the plans have raised concerns over its impact on the base of Harleston Army Cadet Force (ACF) that would lose most of its outdoor facilities, including its parade ground.
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In their submissions both armed forces officials say the plans would be against South Norfolk Council's policy to 'improving the level of community facilities'.
Major Gibbs began his own 30 year military career in the ACF as a cadet sergeant with the City of Norwich Troop before seeing operational service with the Royal Army Medical Corps in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia and Iraq.
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He said: "Norfolk Cadet Force is a thriving MOD sponsored uniform youth organisation that provides children in Harleston between the ages of 12 and 18 with unparalleled personal development and life changing experiences which there is a clear need for now and to fortify for future generations.
"The ACF hut and training ground are well established community facilities that have been in place since the mid-1960s. To permit development on the training ground not only be contra to the council's planning policy but moreover be detrimental to the facilities available."
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Mr Pellatt said: "The loss of this facility may mean that the organisation ceases to be viable in terms of its core delivery."
The Harleston force currently has 40 cadets and parents are also among the dozens who have commented on the plans.
Jane Simmonds, from Redenhall, said: "The Harleston Army Cadets led the remembrance parade through the town and I was very proud of the fact my daughter and nephew were part of the troop.
"There are few opportunities for young people in the area where teenagers can get together and learn new skills such as parade, first aid, physical fitness, navigation, team work and survival. It would be shameful to take away the outdoor space as many of the cadets activities are based there."