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New Marines’ accommodation is ‘100 times better’

Many had previously been housed in older accommodation that lacked suitable storage and washing facilities and forced the Marines to share rooms.

The new accommodation takes the form of buildings with individual rooms for the Marines in wings containing six- and eight-man flats.

Each flat has its own common room and a utility room. Such a configuration allows the Marines the benefit of an individual and private room while maintaining an environment that allows for interaction and camaraderie.

One such Marine who has been enjoying the summer in the new accommodation since moving from an older block two months ago is Lance Corporal Keith Smith, a recovery mechanic in the Royal Marines Commando Logistic Regiment who worked out of forward operating bases in Afghanistan for six months between October 2008 and March 2009.

Commenting on the new accommodation, Lance Corporal Smith said:

"The new accommodation is 100 times better. There are a lot better facilities as you have a rest room and communal area so the lads are not just stopping in the rooms on their own. There is an amazing kitchen and drying room, we really have everything we need.

"Everybody is in the same building from the same squadron so everyone is mingling together and it’s a lot more communal. The job is easier as you are living with the guys you are working with.

"I came from four-man rooms which were good but you had no privacy; here you have both – the communal area and the private space. This is fantastic.

"Instead of now having to ram all your stuff into a locker we have space for all your field kit."

His views were echoed by Marine Adam Richardson:

"It is a lot better than we had before; we have more privacy and also have the choice of social interaction in the shared kitchen and common room."

The new accommodation block at Chivenor was recently handed over from Defence Estates (DE) to the Royal Marines as part of the MOD’s Project SLAM.

The SLAM work at Chivenor is being delivered in two phases. Phase 1 provided 138 Junior Ranks ‘Z-style’ en-suite bedrooms in two accommodation blocks and was completed in August 2006 at a cost of £6.9m.

Phase 2 began in October 2007 and has delivered a further 264 Junior Ranks ‘Z-style’ en-suite bedrooms in four accommodation blocks at a cost of approximately £15m. The last block – Block 3 – was handed over on 11 September 2009.

Prior to the handover DE Project Manager Tony Bird and client representative Major Nick Underwood jointly toured the new facility.

Commenting on the new block, Major Nick Underwood said:

"This block, the standard of fit and finish is the best we have seen so far. It is exemplary. The number of bed spaces it provides will be a significant aid to accommodating all our people."

Following the handover, Tony Bird explained that the cost of SLAM projects has been kept down using off-site construction methodologies.

The Chivenor project is a good example of this, with the bedroom modules being constructed off-site by a firm in Nottingham.

Using these modules, the three-storey SLAM building at Chivenor has been erected from its foundations in just three weeks. The majority of internal finishing is completed prior to delivery, including en-suite tiling, walls and fittings.

The construction of the roofs, building face brick finishes, decorating, and the connection of the services are then completed on-site along with the final landscaping works.

The construction method also allows for adaptability, and one of the key features of Block 3 is that it also includes two ‘accessible bed spaces’ for those with impairments, to give the establishment the scope for retaining injured personnel returning to Service.

The ground floor plan of the block has been adapted so that what would ordinarily be three SLA bed spaces becomes two accessible rooms thus providing sufficient space to meet a range of requirements for those with impairments and disabilities.

Likewise, these bed spaces are fitted with adaptable rails so that they cater for the widest possible scope of disability and allow for injured servicemen to return to their unit rather than have to travel long distances or seek roles at other establishments.

Major Underwood said:

"The provision of these two accessible rooms will provide for people we already know need them. Hopefully they will not be needed in the future but we have to plan and now we do have that contingency."

The new accommodation at Chivenor is part of a wider investment in Single Living Accommodation the MOD has made over the past seven years, providing 35,000 trained military personnel with accommodation of the highest modern standard.

By 2020, Defence Estates aims to provide 70 per cent of SLA at the top level (Grade 1) and the remainder at Grade 2.

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