RAF bases to be sold for housing

First published in Local News by

THE futures of the historic RAF bases at Uxbridge Northolt, Ruislip and Bentley Priory in Stanmore were deciced this week.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced £180 million-worth of improvements at RAF Northolt but said the other bases would be closed and the sites sold for redevelopment.

All the bases played vital roles in the defence of London and the south east during the Second World War.

The MoD's announcement came two days after Battle of Britain Day, which commemorates the defeat of the Luftwaffe by the Few in the autumn of 1940.

The Few's Spitfires and Hurricanes operated from RAF Northolt and 11 group was commanded by Air Vice-Marshall Sir Keith Park at RAF Uxbridge. RAF Bentley Priory, was the headquarters of Fighter Command.

The plans unveiled this week, which the MoD calls Operation MoDEL, will see 5,000 new homes built on the decommissioned bases.

Derek Twigg, Under Secretary of State for Defence, said the new homes would be "affordable."

He said: "The release of over 100 hectares of predominantley brownfield land, ripe for development will provide a very significant opportunity to the London property dvelopment market."

An MoD spokesman said: "The expected return on the sale of the land will be a guaranteed £231million."

There were some concerns that the bunker used to command 11 group at RAF Uxbridge and other historic sites would be demolished.

But the MoD said: "The bunker at RAF Uxbridge is a listed building and the Defence Estates and VSM, the developers, are in early discussions about the future ownership and responsibilities of the site.

"But the master plan does allow for the building to remain.

"It is likely that ownership will go to a heritage body or a museum."

In total, 40 units from all three services, RAF, Army and Navy, will be based at the newly rejuvenated RAF Northolt.

It is expected that construction of the new base will be completed by 2010.

Group Captain John Mass, station commander at Northolt, said: "It's highly important for RAF Northolt and the borough as a whole.

"We hope the local communty will support us during the build of the base and that we can work together to provide a future for both the military and the local workforce in Northolt."

Uxbridge MP John Randall said: "I regret the decision for the RAF to move away from the Uxbridge site, but I know that this decision has been a long time coming.

"I am very strongly in favour of making sure that what is built on the site is right for the community and the borough as there is a lot of green belt land.

"I think we should look to the re-siting of Hillingdon Hospital there and maybe developing a transport hub too as this would be of real benefit to the borough and there is support for this idea.

"I hope the local authority will take a strategic view of whatever goes there."

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