A SIGNIFICANT milestone has been reached as work gets underway to transform a former army barracks into the UK’s first housing and enterprise hub for veterans.

The multi-million pound development is being built at the former Erskine Barracks in Wilton. A ground breaking ceremony was held on Friday to mark the start of building work.

Our Enterprise is working alongside Redrow Homes who are building private homes on Erskine Park and Wilton Hill.

Forty-four homes will be built for former service personnel to rent for between six to 24 months and during that time they will receive business and skills training at the enterprise hub.

The project will provide a range of jobs for veterans who will be running the community café on site, their own ground maintenance enterprise alongside a range of volunteering, training and education opportunities to support their move to independence.

The Community Land Trust, Redrow and Our Enterprise formed Our Wilton Community Interest Company to own the charity Our Wilton Trust which will develop and deliver the veterans’ accommodation.

Matthew Bell, the CEO of Our Enterprise, said: “We all owe a huge debt to our forces and a project like this is long overdue. These men and women risk their lives for our safety, yet when they return home they are often faced with huge difficulties. This project is about supporting them on their return and helping them make the transition into civilian life in a positive way.“I believe we have come up with a scheme which will reinvigorate this community and transform many lives for the better. Hopefully it will be a blueprint for future developments across the UK and help open doors for our returning service personnel.”

The project has received a £3.5 million grant from the Libor Fund and £500,000 from the Armed Forces Covenant. Triodos, Europe’s leading sustainable bank, is also in discussions to provide additional funding.

Greg Power, who served in 1st Battalion, The Coldstream Guards and runs Blighty Bushcraft, said: “The Our Wilton project is so important for those leaving the army. It allows like-minded people to connect and discuss what they have been through without fear of judgement.

“The Wilton Campus will help returning veterans by providing them with the skills needed to adjust to civilian life. To be involved with the Wilton project will allow me to mentor veterans through their readjustment process and teach them useful skills to help them in the future.”

The first veterans are due to move in mid 2018.