Norfolk: Plan to Buy Former RAF Coltishall
31 May 2012, 00:00
Heart is being told about a plan to buy the old RAF Coltishall airbase after much of it has sat empty for six years.
Norfolk County Council say they are getting close to buying the base north of Norwich that was open from 1940 until 2006.
Since being closed off part of the site has become Bure Prison and the old married housing has been renovated and put back on the market again, but the remainder of the base has been locked up and left unused.
In the last few years there have been several plans to purchase the base, but they have all fallen through.
The plan is for the council to purchase the site and get it set up for several different uses.
- The aircraft hangars and engineering buildings could be fitted out for business and engineering companies to use that could create new jobs.
- New housing could be put into some of the old accommodation blocks
- Facilities on the base like the gym have potential to be redeveloped for the public to use again
- The remaining airfield could be turned back into farmland again like it was before World War Two
- Key historical buildings would be reopened for the public to be able to see
After six years sitting empty, many of the buildings and facilities are starting to fall into a state of disrepair and the council believe if they don't act now then then they could miss the opportunity to bring them back into use again.
News of the County Council's involvement has been welcomed by local MPs, business leaders and parish councils.
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North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said: "It's incredibly important that we successfully use part of the site to generate employment. The loss of the base left a very big hole in the local economy and it has been left to decay for too long. While we must wait for the details and a financial plan of how the redevelopment will be delivered, in principle I support the proposal. I'm very keen that the local community is involved in the discussions as soon as possible."
Broadland MP Keith Simpson said: "This is an interesting proposal that could very well provide the answer to the neglected part of the Coltishall site. Hopefully, when we see the details of the proposals, they will provide both an economic stimulus and meet the requirements of the local community."
Caroline Williams, Chief Executive of Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, added: "At a time when Norfolk is increasingly seen as an area which can attract inward investment, the news concerning the development of Coltishall is very positive. The plans will bring jobs and economic prosperity and help both new and existing businesses through the combination of the development of industry and housing."