Our Estates team completed an upgrade of the Cadet Centre in central Norwich, creating a more welcoming space for the young people and adult volunteers of 231 (Norwich) Squadron Air Training Corps (ATC), Catton Detachment Army Cadet Force and staff of Norfolk and Suffolk Wing ATC.
This project is part of the RFCA Estate Optimisation Programme (REOP).
The Air Cadets meet at the Norwich cadet centre on Mondays and Thursdays and the Army Cadets Catton detachment meets there on Wednesdays. In addition they will often plan additional activities at the Centre at weekends, and the ATC Wing staff are based there weekdays.
231 (Norwich) Squadron were temporarily re-located to a local primary school for the duration of the works. Squadron leader Kevin Green is Wing Staff based at the Norwich Cadet Centre and he said: “REOP has brought much-needed investment to this site, and we’re looking forward to the opportunities that sharing a site with the Army Cadets offers.”
REOP is a major Defence investment which aims to optimise the “Volunteer Estate” (comprising the Army Reserve Centres and Cadet Centres owned and managed by the RFCA on behalf of the MOD) to be more efficient, and to change from a historic footprint to one that supports today’s demands.
REOP is linked to improving the lived experience of Reserves and Cadets by providing modern, energy-efficient, fit-for-purpose training locations, situated geographically to maintain the visibility of uniformed organisations while eliminating duplication of land holdings in similar areas to provide better value for money for the taxpayer.
The Norwich Cadet Centre can now house the Catton detachment Army Cadets, 231 (Norwich) Squadron ATC and staff of Norfolk and Suffolk Wing ATC.
The Estates team added a classroom, an office and extra storage so the Catton detachment could move onto the premises. Coupled with the afore-mentioned works, this project has created a modern, fit-for-purpose location where each group has their own dedicated space, plus the use of the shared spaces on their respective training dates.
The addition of stepfree access and ramp, accessible toilet supports the inclusive and welcoming culture at the Cadet Centre.
Significant improvements to the building and grounds for a better cadet experience.
This is another great example of the work the RFCA Estates team carries out throughout the year. The team added energy-saving features and made great use of the space to provide the cadets and adults who train them with superb facilities. Flt Sergeant Troy Reynolds has been with the squadron for 4 years. He said: “This feels a lot like a fresh start, and the changes are really good. I’m looking forward to using the air rifle range again.”
The squadron retained their flight simulator room, air rifle range, internal storage room, drill hall, classroom, office and outdoor storage container. Of all these spaces have been refurbished so they’re bright, warm, practical and welcoming. Many brand new spaces and features have been added by our Estates team; Steve Willis is the project manager who led the Norwich Centre works, he said: “We’ve added a large extension to the the building and increased the usable outdoor learning space too.”
New solar panels with batteries have been installed. The Wing Executive Officer, Simon Roberts said: “Under the right conditions, the new solar panels and batteries allow us to power a parade night without any external electricity from the grid.” Energy-efficient LED lighting strategically positioned outside improve the training conditions for cadets parading outside during the dark winter evenings. Repositioning the existing outdoor storage has freed up the now well-lit space in front of the building.
A shower cubicle was added. Simon said: “It’s not unusual for adult volunteers to come straight from work, but having a suitable space for them to freshen up and change into their uniforms isn’t something we’ve been able to offer here before. The RFCA did a great job re-configuring the existing ablutions space to introduce this feature to the site. We anticipate more people will be encouraged to try cycling here, knowing they can shower when they arrive, and the addition of the new bike shed helps us promote sustainable travel to the Cadet Centre.”
The project also included: a new roof, new gutters and weatherproofing, improved insulation, new windows, new internal and external doors, a new kitchenette, new toilets, step-free access and a new gas boiler. Sub-metering for water and electric consumption was added to enable the RFCA Estates team to monitor the effectiveness of the energy-saving features at the site, including low flow taps and low volume cisterns.
Working with the contractor GED and the nearby Reserve unit, 3 Royal Anglian based at the Norwich Army Reserve Centre, a pond was added with pond flora, extra trees and shrubs were planted, a wildflower area sowed, and bird boxes and bat boxes affixed to mature trees.
Works included the addition of an outdoor seating area suitable for outdoor lessons, while there’ s still plenty of flat grassed space for open air activities within the perimeter.
The East Anglia RFCA Estates team manages over 190 sites across East Anglia and deliver a year-round programme of improvements that sits alongside capital projects and maintenance workstreams.
The refurbishment has reinvigorated the local cadet community
Flt Lt Kristian Crittenden is the new Officer Commanding of 231 (Norwich) Squadron. His first recruiting event at the newly refurbished Cadet Centre brought in 40 new cadets and 15 new adult volunteers for the 231 (Norwich) Squadron alone.
Lauren Griffin-Edmondson is a cadet warrant officer who has been an air cadet for 7 years, she said: ” I’m looking forward to being part of introducing everything the air cadets has to offer to the new people joining our squadron.”
Corporal Lana Watson-Augood lives just up the road from the Cadet Centre and has been with a cadet for two years. She highlighted: “The flight simulator gave me a first-hand experience of flight really early in my cadet journey. I think the flight simulator will be a favourite activity for the new cadets. Although I count fieldcraft and aviation engineering in my favourites too.” Fellow cadet Troy added: “And shooting!” Flt Lt Crittenden suggested the pre-Duke of Edinburgh activities at the Squadron are also proving very popular for younger cadets.