ARMY officers will no longer be tackling selection tests including gruelling assault courses and mental challenges in Westbury in future, as the Ministry of Defence is giving up the Army Officer Selection Board base at Leighton House, with land due to be sold for housing.

The AOSB has been based at Leighton House, on Warminster Road, for decades, with generations of officers, cadets and potential recruits to the service travelling to the town for selection boards and courses there. Its facilities are used as part of the officer selection process for Army Reserves, Regular Army and scholarship schemes.

It is one of 10 military sites nationwide earmarked for sale, which will release land and allow 7,000 homes to be built, contributing to the government’s target of 160,000 new homes by 2020.

The AOSB employs 20 military personnel, both regular and full-time reserves, 10 reserves who support Army Officer Selection Board activities and 20 civilian staff.

An MoD spokesman said: “The Army Officer Selection Board will be re-provided for by the MoD, however further details are not available at the current time.

“Civilian staff whose posts are considered surplus as a consequence of this decision will be managed in accordance with departmental policy and processes. Formal Trade Union and staff association consultation will be initiated well in advance of any closure.”

Westbury Cllr David Jenkins said: “It will be sad to see it go in some respect as it has been there for a number of years."

“It’s another situation that will create more houses in the town which simply are not needed, we have new housing estates coming out of our ears in Westbury.

“I would like to see the space used for something that the community can benefit from. I understand that people need to live somewhere but people also need a good facility in the town that they can enjoy using.

“It’s another opportunity that Westbury will probably miss out on, but I will certainly try to do something to make it an alternative to housing and I know other councillors will as well.”

The defence estate currently spans one per cent of all UK land and covers 452,000 hectares. The MoD has committed to generating £1 billion through land sales over the next four years and plans to contribute up to 55,000 homes.

A spokesperson for Wiltshire Council said: "Any applications for development on this site will be subject to normal planning procedures and consideration in the context of the Wiltshire Core Strategy.

"We would work with MoD, the Defence Infrastructure Organisation as well as the local community so as to ensure the future use of this site is in keeping with that strategy.”