RAF Coltishall: Feedback Wanted

We're being asked for our feedback on plans to build on the former RAF Coltishall base.

Members of the County Council's Community Liaison Group visited the site on Monday and at a meeting on Thursday were told that talks with the MoJ were now at an advanced stage and within weeks of reaching conclusion.

A new zonal layout of the site was shared with members of the group showing the County Council's latest thinking and presenting a number of new ideas for discussion and debate. Numerous ideas have already come in to the Council with many incorporated into the zonal plan.

Ideas include:

*The possibility of retaining a central stretch of the base's runway and using it to generate renewable energy while disposing of each end and parts of the perimeter track and returning the land to agricultural use.

*Relocating the current community woodland in the north of the site to the South East to make it more attractive to walkers and replacing that land with a mix of allotments for local residents and some low intensity housing.

*The possibility of the County Council formally adopting a number of unadopted roads in the area and the impact that would have on local residents was also discussed.

*In addition to creating potential allotments, talks have begun with local schools and other interested parties about the possibility of the base's theatre being reopened for community dance, music and theatre use.

Cliff Jordan, Cabinet member for Efficiency who chairs the Liaison Group, said discussions with the Ministry of Justice were now in the final stages.

He said that a Master Plan would need to be agreed during the autumn once the Council had bought the site, but that he wanted to hear people's views on the latest thinking for the site.

He said: "I've always said we are willing to listen to ideas and I hope this shows that we do want to build a strong working relationship with local residents and come up with a long term plan which will be of benefit to everyone."

To my mind, siting renewable energy panels on a significant part of the runway while returning land at both ends to agriculture makes sense, as it will make a healthy rental return and allow people to see where the runway once stood. Many people have asked that the runway be retained and we have listened to that. We are working on plans to protect and manage the most important heritage assets and to make the site more accessible, and this shows we are serious about respecting the site's history.

A number of people have also suggested that we might adopt a number of roads in the vicinity. I've asked officers to investigate the costs of doing that and to report back to us in the future. Clearly, we will need to sensitively manage traffic in the area and I know that adopting local roads would be well received by some local residents.

Cllr Jordan urged people to get in touch with the council about its initial thinking by emailing a dedicated email address FutureofRAFColtishall@norfolk.gov.uk

The new zonal map can be seen at a website about the former base at www.norfolk.gov.uk/RAFColtishall

The Liaison Group includes representatives from local district and parish councils, including Coltishall and Scottow and will meet regularly in the months ahead.

Any proposals requiring planning permission will still have go through all the normal processes - including public consultation - and there will be an update to the County Council Cabinet in October.

Cllr Jordan added: "In essence, we plan to be good neighbours to local residents and sensitive about the development of the site. We also want to recognise and take account of local concerns and to minimise the impact on local residents as far as possible.

"This is a long term proposal stretching over many years and we recognise that we do not have all the answers at this stage. With that in mind, we would ask people to keep an open mind and bear with us in the months to come and to come forward with their ideas."

Should a deal be concluded, the County Council hopes to organise a series of open days for businesses and local residents to see the site, which is currently hidden from public view.

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