Council bosses have insisted their proposals to spend millions of pounds to buy the former air base at RAF Coltishall are a good deal for taxpayers.

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But Norfolk County Council officers and leading councillors came under fire at a meeting today for a lack of a publicly available business plan justifying their bid to buy the base.

The ruling Conservative cabinet has agreed in principle to purchase RAF Coltishall after the Ministry of Justice picked the county council as its preferred bidder for the 600 acre-site.

The authority, which has not revealed how much it plans to pay for the base, has indicated it would like the majority of the land to be used for agriculture, with its own tenant farmers leasing land.

It added that former air force buildings could be converted into about 65 homes, while other buildings, such as refurbished hangars, could be offered to small or medium-sized businesses to buy or rent.

But with no masterplan drawn up yet, the opposition Liberal Democrat group at County Hall ‘called in’ the cabinet’s decision, saying too many question marks were hanging over such a major investment of public funds.

At a meeting at County Hall today, Cliff Jordan, cabinet member for efficiency, found himself in the spotlight, along with Mike Jackson, director of environment, transport and development and Mike Britch, managing director of Norfolk Property Services.

After criticism that the county council was not providing evidence that backed up the rationale of investing millions to buy the base, Mr Jordan said: “The problem we have always had is how much do you let be known when we are asked by the Ministry of Justice for extreme caution and commercial confidentiality?

“We have always had a difficult plank to walk. But we know what we are proposing is good value for money, we know that.

“When we talk about the real detail, we want all the community to be involved in that because this is going to become a generator for the North Norfolk area and will help Norfolk County Council to keep delivering services at the front end.”

Also called before councillors was Bruce Giddy, managing director of the Hans House Group of Companies, which tabled a rival bid for the site.

His has offered £4.1m for the site and want to save the former Battle of Britain’s historic buildings to turn them into a heritage centre and museum.

That scheme, he said would also feature a solar farm, generating electricity for the National Grid.

Mr Giddy dismissed suggestions from councillors that his plan included relocating Norwich International Airport to Coltishall.

He said that had been looked at in the early stages of his group’s involvement, but had dismissed the idea in favour of the solar farm proposal.

See the EDP and Evening News tomorrow for a full report.

dan.grimmer@archant.co.uk

22 comments

  • According to the Aviation Museaum Guide - "The conservation area includes the runway, a number of key buildings including hangars 1, 2 and 3, the control tower, the station watch tower, the officers' mess and sergeants' mess." You say "a strip of concrete that was only laid about 6 years ago", it closed 6 years ago, the runway was extended in 1957 now who's not being honest.

    Report this comment

    Honest John

    Friday, June 29, 2012

  • Am I missing something here,what sort of council allows a contractor to dictate the terms of the contract of which they are tendering for. If they are not awarded planning permission the customer has to pay them £20,million,talk about having your cake and eating it

    Report this comment

    LFB

    Wednesday, June 27, 2012

  • Try finding out about those standing for election at local elections, without resort to FoI. The potted biographies and CVs trotted out at election time are barely full enough to tell us if a candidate has the wit to put one foot in front of another, let alone make an adequate councillor. And it is certainly hard to find out if they are capable of meddling in the actual legal and or business side of council activities .Graham Plant chip shop and restaurant owner-council member with responsibility for transport , roads etc. Anyone know what Cliff Jordan did for a living? A caravan business rings a bell.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Wednesday, June 27, 2012

  • When you hear NCC say "a good deal for taxpayers" best start looking at the fine detail! Today it has been announced that three hospitals in South London are about to go bust because of PFI debts! NCC tells us that financing an incinerator, outdated dirty technology, via PFI is good value for money! It is good value for Cory Wheelabrator who will make £26 million per year profit from us, it is not good value for taxpayers!!

    Report this comment

    Joy, King's Lynn

    Tuesday, June 26, 2012

  • Ripping up a perfectly good runway makes no sense to me at a time when air transport is set to expand. But Norwich Airport is never going to move Coltishall - it would be suicidal commercially to move passenger ops there. Freight ops is perhaps another matter. But whatever, that runway has huge potential for other aviation activities. Maybe not during a recession but when that ends who knows. By all means farm the grass areas - why that does not already happen I do not know. But leave the runway and main airfield infrastructure on care and maintenance. I seem to recall that Mr Jordan courts controversy wherever he goes. I am also always concerned when councillors seem to have a strident attitude to an issue - it makes me wonder why. Overall, NCC does seem a bit out of touch at present.

    Report this comment

    RichardS

    Thursday, June 28, 2012

  • RAF Coltishall was made a Conservation Area in 2009 by North Norfolk and Broadland DC’s, and the runway and other specified buildings are protected. So why have NCC been allowed to go this far down the line without this having been brought up? Questions need asking of the 2 DC’s – a bulk order of new brooms are needed to sweep clean across the whole of Norfolk, not just NCC. It is out of control.

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    Honest John

    Thursday, June 28, 2012

  • Honest John, you're not being honest. Perhaps unintentionally. The only protected assets are the hangars, the Control Tower, the Officers' Mess, and the Sergeants' Mess plus the Blast Walls and 'Spitfire Pens'. Why would there be a need to protect a strip of concrete that was only laid about 6 years ago. When it was a WWII airfield, the runway was grass!

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    Tom Jeffries

    Thursday, June 28, 2012

  • Excellent, then you can look at section 6, “The removal of airfield buildings and hard surfaces for material reclamation.” and in “Character Area 3 – The Airfield.” You will also see that under 1.0 Conservation Area Boundary – “encompass the entire historic airbase boundary …… as well as the airfield itself.” The runway was renewed? Dug up or re-surfaced?

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    Honest John

    Friday, June 29, 2012

  • why is everyone so sentimental about a length of tarmac all of a sudden?

    Report this comment

    Tom Jeffries

    Wednesday, June 27, 2012

  • Given that the council plan to rip the runway up,( fact). Will they be selling the replica Jaguar aircraft they have on display outside City Hall ? Why proudly display the aircraft after destroying its home base ? Makes no sense whatsoever to me.

    Report this comment

    Sicktothebackteeth

    Wednesday, June 27, 2012

  • They said the same about Barnham Broome and look what happened There!

    Report this comment

    Jacob Burns

    Tuesday, June 26, 2012

  • Cllr Jordan and dim in the same sentence, I like that. Very cleverly put Nemesis we all know he finds admin very difficult!

    Report this comment

    Canary Boy

    Tuesday, June 26, 2012

  • Cliff Jordon and Mike Jackson ignored 65.516 people in West Norfolk, waste incinerators is what they want to spend your money on. These men are on a ego trip and it is you who will suffer.

    Report this comment

    Jack

    Tuesday, June 26, 2012

  • So who wants to build the methane power station on the site, Bruce Giddy or NCC?

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    Honest John

    Wednesday, June 27, 2012

  • Why is it that this bunch of average to awful councillors somehow think they are whizz kids when it comes to property development? Of course they aren't. I rather think that the reason that they have got preferred status over the brilliant private plan that has been tabled is that the government is looking for somewhere else to dump rubbish. Why else would that shy retiring violet Cliffie Jordan be so maidenly reluctant to let us know what treats they have for the people living around Coltishall. Please everyone, if you value your health and your wealth vote this lot out before they completely destroy Norfolk. Imagine living downwind of an incinerator. If you are able to sell your property you'll get a quarter of what its worth. If you vote them back in in May next year then you will be to blame. That's all it takes to stop their plans. Put your cross somewhere else on the voting slip and stop this madness.

    Report this comment

    alecto

    Tuesday, June 26, 2012

  • Really, Cllr Jordan, do you think that we are all dim? The MoJ may want you to keep the financial details of the purchase quiet, but I cannot imagine for one moment that it cares what you do with the site after completion. You and your colleagues know what you are going to do with the site, but - as you once said to the rival bidder - if you have bad news you don't publish it unless you have to. Please remember, it is our money - not yours - that you are about to spend

    Report this comment

    Nemesis

    Tuesday, June 26, 2012

  • Part 2, Section 2, is the important section which describes the specific management recommendations. The runway is not listed there, probably because there is nothing original about it. Part 1, section 6, to which you refer, Honest John, is a general appraisal of airbases. The runway is not protected. I

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    Tom Jeffries

    Monday, July 2, 2012

  • Why should the ground under the runway be contaminated if it went down on pristine agricultural land in the war? Is it a new post war run way or would there have been seepage of aviation fuel? I think the scandal is that the area not built on not has not been offered back to the farming family it was requisitioned from in WW2

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Wednesday, June 27, 2012

  • Tom Jeffries: I am not concerned for the tarmac strip itself. I am concerned for the people of Coltishall! The Ministry of Justice commissioned Jacobs Engineering to carry out a ground study of the site. The report is clear the ground under the runway is highly contaminated. They can do what they like with the site BUT digging up the runway is a disaster which will have far reaching effects. NCC know that they will have seen the Jacobs report.

    Report this comment

    Joy, King's Lynn

    Wednesday, June 27, 2012

  • You have to remember that Cliff Jordan and Mike Jackson only have one goal in mind and that is waste incinerator , you are warned.

    Report this comment

    Jack

    Sunday, July 1, 2012

  • I have a copy of the RAF Coltishall Conservation Area Designation, produced jointly by North Norfolk and Broadland District Councils. It makes no mention of the runway at all. And for your information. The runway was renewed in February 2006. Extraordinary that it should have happened less than a year before closure, but it's a fact. Six years ago.

    Report this comment

    Tom Jeffries

    Friday, June 29, 2012

  • NCC councillors, you've stirred up a right hornets nest with this crazy notion. Now so the decent thing and shut up, pull out and get back from under the rock you have crawled from. NCC should be ashamed of these individuals who claim to be representing them and us the local community. They embarrass themselves and the people of Norfolk.

    Report this comment

    jaybaxter

    Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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