But the Ministry of Defence has only been guaranteed a pounds 100m share of the proceeds. The rest may disappear into the Treasury "pot of gold", amid widespread speculation that the true purpose of the deal is to create a massive windfall to fund tax cuts.
The plans have outraged servicemen and their families, a number of members of the House of Lords, including Field Marshal Lord Bramall, who called them a "national disgrace", and MPs of all parties.
Under the scheme, the MoD will retain the freehold on the 60,000 married quarter houses on 800 sites across England and Wales, but leases them for 999 years. The MoD's Defence Housing Executive will retain control over the properties for as long as it requires them, and pay rent to the lessee. The Government will therefore get a massive cash injection, while the lessee gets a guaranteed income from a reliable source.The MoD also retains responsibility for maintenance of the properties.