As part of its ongoing drive to cut costs, the GCHQ Board has decided that the GCHQ Oakley site, Cheltenham will close by the end of 2012. All operating functions and staff will transfer to GCHQ's main operating site at Benhall, Cheltenham.
This decision reflects the increasing costs of maintaining the Oakley site and the requirement for extensive future investment to ensure buildings remain safe and fit for purpose. GCHQ's accommodation at Benhall offers better value for money and has sufficient capacity to absorb the Oakley workforce.
GCHQ staff currently located at Oakley will transfer to Benhall during 2011. Following this, all buildings at the Oakley site will be demolished, the land remediated and prepared for sale. Further details of this will be communicated to local residents as part of a full consultation exercise nearer the time. GCHQ will work with the local authorities to ensure that any disruption at Oakley is kept to a minimum.
The closure of the Oakley site will ensure that GCHQ is able to continue with its vital work of protecting the security and wellbeing of the UK in the most cost efficient manner.
16 February 2011
Notes to Editors:
Potted History of GCHQ Oakley
GCHQ's move to Cheltenham from its post war home at Eastcote in Middlesex began in 1952 amidst serious concerns about the lack of space at Benhall and Oakley. This prompted the construction of a further large four-storey brick building at Oakley and workshops at Benhall. Oakley duly became home to the Directorate and main intelligence production areas of GCHQ. As GCHQ continued to grow, more and more buildings were added to Oakley, ranging from substantial modern buildings, to others that were little more than portacabins.
Oakley was one of the three sites considered for the location of the 'Doughnut' but was rejected because of the traffic disruption it would have caused. On the move to the 'Doughnut', the original plan to vacate the Oakley site completely by 2005 was changed when revised planning assumptions about the size of GCHQ made it necessary to keep the top part of the Oakley site open for longer.
The long held belief that an underground railway links GCHQ Benhall and Oakley can now finally be revealed as false!
The closure of Oakley will coincide with GCHQ's presence in Cheltenham for 60 years.