A SENIOR army commander has said “more needs to be done” to ensure south Wiltshire is ready for an influx of 4,000 extra soldiers and their families by 2020.

Lieutenant Colonel John Le Feuvre says that 2,000 of those troops will be based in Larkhill with about 500 new homes needed to accommodate them.

Several possible sites in the garrison town are being considered and public consultation is about to get underway to help decide where they should be built.

Concerns have been raised about the increased pressure on doctor’s surgeries, dental practices, Salisbury District Hospital and local schools.

Fears have also been raised about more vehicles on the already traffic-choked roads and Lt Col Le Feuvre said: “the A303 must remain at the top of the agenda and I would like to see this at top Government level.”

Lt Col Le Feuvre, deputy garrison commander at Larkhill, said developments “inside the wire” should be “pretty straightforward” when he addressed Amesbury town councillors at their meeting last week.

But he admitted that “timescales were tight” for preparations outside the base, which include the construction of new housing estates for service families, and “there is a lot of work to be done”.

Due to its proximity to the Stonehenge World Heritage Site, new building work has not been permitted south of the Packway – the main road running through Larkhill.

Discussions are now underway to see if that restriction can be overturned so homes can be built near the shops and facilities in Larkhill.

“This seems to be sensible but the planning procedure will be long and complicated,” said Lt Col Le Feuvre.

“But there are many advantages, it makes sense to put the houses close to the shops and for personnel to be able to walk or cycle to work. “A lot of work is being done with Wiltshire Council behind the scenes preparing for this. Education is a big consideration but the headteachers I have spoken to would be delighted with extra pupils and facilities.”

A new medical and dental centre will also be built in Larkhill.

A public consultation starts on February 19 and runs until April 1.

In addition to the 500 houses at Larkhill, an additional 681 homes will need to be built on other parts of Salisbury Plain including in Bulford and Ludgershall.

A final masterplan will be drawn up in May with building work due to start late next year or in early 2016.

The first soldiers are expected to be relocated from Germany in 2017.