DEVELOPERS have taken the first formal step in re-shaping RAF Uxbridge.

Hillingdon Council has received a planning application from VSM Estates, outlining its vision for the historic 110 acre site.

The base has been largely off limits to the public for more than 25 years, thanks largely to its unfortunate status in the past as a terrorist target – an accommodation block was the scene of an IRA bomb explosion in 1981, and an cache of terrorist weapons was seized from a garage block in Park Road in the 1990s.

Prior to the alerts, the base was often open as a handy cut-through from Uxbridge High Street to Vine Lane. It also hosted the annual Scouts’ St George’s Day parade.

VSM plans to build 1,425 homes, a large theatre, primary school, hotel, shop units, sheltered housing for the elderly and a doctors’ surgery as part of its scheme.

One feature of the base is its wealth of mature trees, many of which will be retained as part of the new scheme, which makes provision for 45 acres of open space.

The Uxbridge plans are part of a much larger project involving redevelopment of several former military bases in the borough, including RAF West Ruislip, left vacant for some years after the departure of the US Air Force which had leased the site since the Second World War.

The RAF personnel currently based at Uxbridge, numbering around 1,000, will eventually relocate to RAF Northolt.

One key responsibility has not been overlooked. The underground operations room, a listed building, is being preserved in the redevelopment. It was the nerve centre for fighter operations during the Battle of Britain in 1940.

It was visited by Prime Minister Winston Churchill who spent a day there on Eagle Day – September 15 – when the battle reached its height.