‘Disgraceful’ MoD evicting dozens of families from homes with just two months’ notice

Royal author and historian Coryne Hall is being evicted with her husband Colin from their four-bedroom home in Bordon
Royal author and historian Coryne Hall is being evicted with her husband Colin from their four-bedroom home in Bordon - DAVID ROSE

Dozens of families are being thrown out of their homes after Ministry of Defence (MoD) officials took the decision to evict them from former service properties with just two months’ notice, amid concerns the properties could be used to house newly arrived Afghan refugees.

Pensioners and parents with young children are being forced to look for new rental accommodation after being told by the MoD it was “disposing” of their homes, built near former military camps in Hampshire.

Tenants say the decision has caused “deep distress” and will lead to the break up of a “pleasant and thriving community”.

The decision to evict the families from their homes in the village of Bordon is one of a number around the country planned by the MoD for properties that have previously been rented out to non-service personnel.

It comes as redundant Armed Forces accommodation is being used to temporarily house hundreds of families evacuated from Afghanistan and given settled status in the UK after the Taliban regained control – including East Camp in St Athan, Vale of Glamorgan, RAF Wethersfield in Essex and service homes at Larkhill and Shrivenham, in Wiltshire. The MoD denies there are similar plans for Bordon.

Coryne Hall, the Royal author and historian, who is being evicted with her husband Colin from their four-bedroom home in Bordon, said the move was “disgraceful”.

Mrs Hall said: “It’s devastating for us. We have no idea what we’re going to do. There are around 10 other families near us facing the same situation, some of whom have lived here for years. Like us they would have loved to stay here, but the MoD seems to think we can move just like that.”

The 74-year-old added: “We did see something about complaints in Wiltshire over people being evicted to house Afghan refugees. We don’t know if this is the case in Bordon, but fear it could be. If it’s happened elsewhere it could well happen here.”

Notice to quit

The first Mr and Mrs Hall and the other families knew of the plan to force them to move was when they received a Notice to Quit from the MoD’s Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), posted on March 19.

DIO gave them until 22 May to vacate their homes in Bordon, close to Bordon military cemetery and a short drive from Bordon and Longmoor British Army training camps.

It is understood that serving forces personnel who live in nearby properties are not being forced to move.

The Halls are appealing against the eviction, pointing out that they have paid the £1,320 monthly rent on their four-bedroom home six months in advance, for the period until August, despite the two-month termination clause.

Mrs Hall told The Telegraph: “This came totally out of the blue and was a total shock to all of us.

“Everyone is up in arms and also stressed to the hilt, especially as they only gave us minimum notice. We need to get this cancelled. They cannot treat us like this.”

Both Mr and Mrs Hall – who reject MoD claims the Bordon properties were intended as short-term social housing – suffer from health problems, including high blood pressure, arthritis and back pain, and say they would find it difficult to move elsewhere.

Mrs Hall also points out that she stores her extensive archive of royal history books and documents in two of their bedrooms and would find the enforced move severely disruptive to her work.

Her acclaimed books include several studies of the Russian Romanov dynasty and their relationship with the British monarchy, including Queen Victoria and The Romanovs.

Property disposal

Mr Hall, 78, said: “We have been given no reason for this decision to evict us except what they call ‘disposal’. The MoD doesn’t seem to have decided what to do with the properties yet, but this is happening not just to us but to people around the country.

“I’ve been a Conservative voter all my life but this is the final nail in the coffin. This government just doesn’t seem to care about people like us.”

DIO is an operating arm of the MoD and is responsible for the department’s built and rural estate, including 115,000 non-residential buildings and 50,000 houses.

In Wiltshire alone, the MoD has an estimated 1,350 former service homes which are now empty.

Eviction notices similar to those sent to the Bordon families were also issued in 2020 to dozens of families living in former Army houses at the old Howe Barracks in Canterbury and the Cashfield Estate in Haverfordwest, as part of moves by the MoD to reduce its property portfolio.

Whitehall sources said Bordon Garrison had been identified as surplus to MoD requirements, with no long-term requirement for the service families, and was now planned for disposal. Sources added that the Bordon properties were likely to be sold off and there were currently no plans to use them to rehouse relocated Afghan families.

An MoD Spokesperson said: “Civilian tenants who rent homes that are temporarily not required for service personnel sign-up to two months’ notice to vacate.

“Sub-lets are always offered on a short-term basis only and cannot be considered as an alternate source of social housing.”