Twickenham MP Vince Cable has criticised plans to close the home of the Royal Military School of Music.
Kneller Hall in Twickenham has been its home for 170 years, training musicians for the British Army’s bands and housing the school’s Museum of Army Music.
The Ministry of Defence two years ago placed the Kneller Road mansion on its list of sites to be sold in 2020, as part of its plans to improve efficiency and reduce the size of the MoD’s built estate by 30%.
In his letter to Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson dated Friday, Liberal Democrat leader Mr Cable described the plans as a ‘potentially ill-judged, short-sighted decision which will be strongly opposed’.
Mr Cable suggested the ‘serious physical deficiencies of the buildings’ would require £20 million to repair, which he said was too expensive for potential outside buyers.
“The likelihood is that the Army will be left with an unused building that it has to maintain or be forced to sell at a knock-down price,” he said.
Mr Cable said a potential new site – the Royal Navy base in Portsmouth – was unsuitable and would not allow for an expansive approach.
Recommending repairing the existing Twickenham base as an alternative, Mr Cable wrote: “I believe that if the hall were modernised it could perform an important function training musicians from other countries – like Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states – where there is already a good connection.
“It is not too difficult to see how a refurbished facility could be a money spinning opportunity as well as a generator of goodwill for the Army.”
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