Home of the Queen's cavalry to be sold off

Ministry of Defence hopes to make millions from disposal of prime Hyde Park barracks site

Britain's most recognised, and most photographed, regiments face leaving their traditional home for alternative accommodation under Government plans to sell off their barracks for hundreds of millions of pounds.

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed plans to sell the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment (HCMR) barracks in Hyde Park after more than 200 years, and find a new home for them elsewhere in the capital.

The Household Cavalry, which comprises The Life Guards and The Blues & Royals, have historically been based less than a mile from Buckingham Palace, for ceremonial duties and to be on hand to deal with any emergencies besetting the monarch.

Yet the MoD is now looking for alternative homes for its mounted units up to 2.5 miles away from nearby Horse Guards Parade, where members of the regiment take part in the Changing of the Guard every day.

The 33-storey residential block at the heart of the complex was once voted one of the ugliest buildings in Britain. But its position in one of London's most expensive areas has made it a uniquely saleable asset for a department struggling to stay within tight government spending limits.

Even as millions watched the cavalry escort the Queen down the Mall during last week's jubilee celebrations, MoD officials were finalising plans – codenamed "Project Rose" – to free up the 1.4 hectares of prime land between Knightsbridge and Hyde Park.

Officials have made clear that the move is driven by a desire to make money from selling the barracks. The "pre-tender" document, circulated among potential developers, states: "The aim of the project is to develop a commercial solution that will provide sustainable infrastructure for the HCMR, at the same time creating revenue from the release of the site."

Interested companies have been told to respond by next month, according to the document, which confirms the MoD's intention of "relocating the HCMR from its current home of Hyde Park Barracks to a new site in central London, which would then allow for the release of the site".

The MoD has warned would-be buyers that they won't be able to take over the present site until they have built a new home for the regiment elsewhere. Developers have been told the site will need to be large enough to house an indoor and an outdoor riding school and "located within 1km of park land, around which an all-weather horse exercise track will be required".

The department has also raised the prospect of moving to an existing MoD site, which would increase the profits raised from the deal.

Paul Howarth, of the MoD's Defence Infrastructure Organisation, said: "We are constantly looking for ways of improving facilities for soldiers, but site limitations at Hyde Park Barracks restrict effective modernisation."

Major General Sir Patrick Cordingley said: "My deep concern, my deep sadness, is not actually a military one, it is purely a patriotic one, of downgrading our ability to keep the tradition of this country going in London. The knock-on effect, as far as the traditions of this country are concerned, is extremely sad, particularly in the jubilee year."

Andy Smith, director of the UK National Defence Association, said: "This is the Government's belated jubilee message to Her Majesty: 'We are moving your royal guards as far away from the royal palaces as we can get them!'

"It beggars belief that even this Government, with its complete lack of empathy for the armed services or for British military traditions, could be cooking up an idiotic plan like this."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea