Army barracks in Drenthe to stay open after cabinet bows to lobbying

The Johan Willem Friso Dutch army barracks in Assen, Drenthe. Photo: Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed
Photo: Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed

The government has scrapped plans to close the Johan Willem Friso army barracks in Assen after intense lobbying in Drenthe to keep the facility open.

The closure of the barracks was mooted last year as a ‘serious option’ under government plans to modernise the armed forces’ estate of 10,000 buildings in 350 locations.

Provincial and local council politicians in Assen opposed the move, saying it would lead to the loss of around 1,000 jobs and 500 training places and have wider repercussions for the local economy.

Junior defence minister Christophe van der Maat is expected to confirm later on Monday that the barracks will remain open, but in a scaled-down form, the Telegraaf reported.

Assen will remain the home of the 13th Light Brigade, one of the three infantry battalions of the Dutch army, which according to reports in NRC last week is due to come under the command of the German army later this year.

Part of the complex will be demolished but the rest will be renovated at a cost of €75 million.

The Johan Willem Friso Royal Military Band will continue to be based in Assen, but a section of the military training school will move to Havelte, in north-west Drenthe, which is undergoing a €250 million refit. The 45 Mechanized Infantry Battalion, currently based in Havelte, will relocate to a new barracks in the centre of the country.

It is the third time in 12 years that the government has bowed to local pressure to keep the Assen facility open. In 2011 and 2013 thousands of people signed a petition started by an action committee against plans to close it.

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