RAF Coltishall: Objections to Norfolk County Council bid

Sex offender prison on site of former RAF Coltishall, Norfolk (Photos: Mike Page)
Image caption Part of the former airbase was turned into HMP Bure

Norfolk County Council's plans to redevelop a former World War II airbase could "destroy the local community", a campaign group has said.

The Campaign Committee for Badersfield said proposals to remove the runway at the former RAF Coltishall were "wrong" and would cause "major disruption".

On Monday senior councillors agreed to bid for 600-acres of the airbase being sold by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).

The council said local groups would be set up to listen to residents' views.

RAF Coltishall closed in 2006 and the MoJ opened a sex offenders prison, HMP Bure, on part of the site in 2009.

Norfolk County Council stated in May it wanted to buy the remaining land from the MoJ and had plans to build homes along with an agriculture and engineering facility.

'Weak and sketchy'

The site could also include a dementia care unit, museum and fuel storage facility, it said.

The MoJ said the council was its "preferred bidder" for the site.

Another bid has been lodged by the Hans House Group of Companies, which looks to turn the base into a solar farm, heritage centre and museum.

Cliff Jordan, cabinet member for efficiency, said the council's plans would involve dismantling the runway, with the aggregate possibly being used for Norwich's Northern Distributor Road .

Campaigner Amanda Bower said the council was being "unfair, unjust and very secretive" about its proposals, which she described as "very weak and sketchy".

She said the plans could damage environment and nearby residents did not wants to see the 600-acres become a "full housing estate".

"We are all for redevelopment of this site, but sympathetically and preservingly of our heritage and to keep the tranquil and peaceful area it is for all of us that live here," said Ms Bower.

Failed bids

"They plan to dig up the runway at RAF Coltishall, ripping the heart out of this last Battle of Britain airfield and sell it as aggregate for the northern bypass."

Mr Jordan said it was important the council stepped in after failed private bids.

"The private sector has been running with this site for six years since it's closed... we were watching carefully but nothing much was happening.

"It's an absolute scar within that area, it was initially bought back for employment and for farming in particular."

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