A spurned bidder for ex-RAF Coltishall has rejoined battle with an out-of-the-blue “compromise” offer.

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The Hans House Group of Companies, and its financial backers Artemis Trustees, want to buy the base, giving Norfolk County Council free use of some land and buildings to help create jobs.

The move comes as it emerged that contracts had still not been exchanged between site owners the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and “preferred bidder” Norfolk County Council after more than five months of negotiations.

The council has offered “several million pounds” for the 600-acre former second world war fighter station with plans to return much of the land to farming, plus some housing and light industry.

Bruce Giddy, managing director of Hans House, said the deal appeared to have gone cold and meanwhile opportunities to improve the local economy were being lost and the base faced another winter of deterioration.

“If we can simply step in and buy, we will do so for the people –without using people’s money, which is what Norfolk County Council would be doing,” said Mr Giddy.

“The council would then still have all that money available to use for projects which directly create jobs.”

But Cliff Jordan, the council’s cabinet member for efficiency, would not be drawn on the Hans House offer.

He told the EDP: “At the moment, we are concentrating our efforts in securing the site in the best interests of the Norfolk economy and residents generally.”

The purchase was complex but he hoped all outstanding information would be received “shortly” allowing matters to be resolved “soon”. He anticipated this would be within weeks, rather than months.

Answering a question about the hold-up at Monday’s cabinet meeting, Mr Jordan said the council was awaiting details from utility companies about enabling the separation of services between the base, which closed in 2006, and HMP Bure.

Hans House had previously offered £4.1m for the base and hoped to create the UK’s largest solar farm, as well as celebrating the station’s Battle of Britain heritage with memorabilia and historic aircraft displays, plus occasional non-commercial flights, agricultural machinery production, aircraft engineering, emergency services training, and a possible care home and holiday accommodation.

Controversially, the council’s proposals for the base include ripping up the runway. But the authority says it would work with the Spirit of Coltishall Association to preserve the base’s history.

An MoJ spokesman would not comment specifically on the compromise offer but confirmed sale contracts with the county council had not been exchanged, although progress on the legal formalities was being made.

22 comments

  • Don't hold your breath. This is a bunch of Tories at County Hall out to buy a site from a Tory-run government department. Not that I am trying to suggest that this will have any bearing on the decision making process. Obviously they have to be seen to be following due process. Rather like the incinerator public enquiry I fear. If NCC are really so desperate to deal with their revenue funding deficit they should be planning to cover the site with wind turbines and solar panels.

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    Police Commissioner ???

    Wednesday, November 7, 2012

  • Hi, its Norman Lamb

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    Dave B

    Wednesday, November 7, 2012

  • and Fred, look at the debacle of Circle and their plans to run an NHS hospital in tatters. £4.1m adrift and getting worse. There are many examples of where the private sector has shown it is just as fallible as the public sector. Having worked in both for roughly the same amount of time, I can honestly say i've seen excellence and incompetence in equal measure.

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    Tom Jeffries

    Friday, November 9, 2012

  • What NCC is not letting on is that they would like to build another four incinerators once they got away with this nudge nudge wink wink jobs burner in Kings Lynn. NCC should not be allowed to do these deals without debating this at full council. Cllrs. Jordan, Murphy and Ms. Steward are acting disgraceful and should resign.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Wednesday, November 7, 2012

  • Tom, and Fred, Believe me there is no worse possible scenario than ANY council running my (1970's) airbase, the ex RAF Coltishall. The incompetence these people manage on a daily basis is breathtaking to one who works in the normal world. We see the most unacceptable Cliff Jordan ( the cabinet member for EFFIENCY for goodness sake) acting as though he already owns the place, even though he hasn't yet spent OUR money, which, I don't recall we ever gave them the permission to spend. In this very week the NNC are trying to find £125Million of savings, they can save £5 Million of OUR money by forgetting this absurd scheme which their combined brain cells are incapable of running.

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    Windless

    Friday, November 9, 2012

  • This has to be the very definition of insanity. On one hand, you have a company with clear financial and green plans to run a solar farm and provide a historical reference of Coltishall. On the other hand, you have a council with no clear plans and one which cannot even manage its cost base (ref £125m of additional savings needed) How can this even be possible? Its absurd and will only lead to wasting more of the tax payers money. The council act in secrecy when it comes to spending our money, someone has to intervene and apply some common sense to this.

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    Dave B

    Wednesday, November 7, 2012

  • For those of you living in the local vicinty it gets worse, if the council buy it. The Hans House offer keeps Coltishall as an airfield, the council "plans" (iffy at best it seems) do not. If it is not kept as an airfield you're soon going to have a planning application for 2 x 420ft wind turbines just over the fence at Scottow. You can see the test mast on the left of the straight out of Coltishall village towards Scottow right now. These would be 2 of the biggest anywhere onshore. So, you have two options, a working airfield with a massive solar farm, invisible to the vast majority, or a council run eyesore with two more eyesores just beside it. I know which one I want!

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    windup

    Wednesday, November 7, 2012

  • and Fred, look at the debacle of Circle and their plans to run an NHS hospital in tatters. £4.1m adrift and getting worse. There are many examples of where the private sector has shown it is just as fallible as the public sector. Having worked in both for roughly the same amount of time, I can honestly say i've seen excellence and incompetence in equal measure.

    Report this comment

    Tom Jeffries

    Friday, November 9, 2012

  • I'm going to write to the local MP and see if I can get any answer to this. The council have no right to hold back what looks to be a better business model when they clearly have issues managing their own cash book

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    Dave B

    Wednesday, November 7, 2012

  • I think the business interests of councillors, officers and their contacts linked to this project need to be closely watched. Something strange is going on here when on the one hand NCC are cutting back on services and sacking staff and yet they are determined to spend millions buying up this parcel of land having no business plan and no clue as to what the final financial burden on the tax payer will be. Those responsible must have a hidden agenda because it simply makes no sense at all. Let Hanse House buy it and use it for the good of Norfolk. They have a business plan, they have the finance and they want to keep the heritage of this important site alive. Jordan just keeps acting ignorant, but then he can't help that can he, after all he has awful trouble with his basic administration skills!!!!

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    Canary Boy

    Wednesday, November 7, 2012

  • Ah, common sense and this allows NCC to bow out gracefully without their tail between their legs. This must be the news Cliffy Iffy JordanDerek Dick Murphy ad the other stooges must have been praying for. Grab it guys whilst you can and leave this business to a proper group of businessmen!

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    jaybaxter

    Wednesday, November 7, 2012

  • Dave B, who is your local MP?

    Report this comment

    Johnyboy65

    Wednesday, November 7, 2012

  • Totally agree with your comments Windless and to add to that, Mr Jordan just doesn't listen to the public voice!! They have an agenda and won't be swayed by anything. The offer from the Hans Group would be best for all parties involved. I can see the council purchasing Coltishall and then not having enough money to do anything with the site. Therefore wasting all our money on a white elephant. Someone needs to step in and make a stand against the council, before it's to late.

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    Johnyboy65

    Wednesday, November 7, 2012

  • Same as me then, I will send him an email too!!!

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    Johnyboy65

    Wednesday, November 7, 2012

  • "Fears of more service cuts and job losses after Norfolk County Council announces review to save £125m" The main headline in the EDP today. The same people want to squander yet more of our taxes on buying ex RAF Coltishall, which frankly they lack any ability to manage. This offer should be grabbed with both hands while its still there

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    Windless

    Wednesday, November 7, 2012

  • "Hans House Group of Companies" Oh NO ~ Is this ANOTHER one of Roger Gawns companies? Just watch this site go bust just like West Raynham Park (WRP) did. WRP is now the council estate of Fakenham!!!

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    Just Me

    Wednesday, November 7, 2012

  • Just Me, you are probably right. If Defence Estates were selling the site it would have simply gone to the highest bidder and we would have had another West Raynham or Sculthorpe on our hands. I have no idea how credible Giddy's plans are, but it I suspect they are not as good as he might have us believe. Otherwise, he would be the owner of the site by now.

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    Tom Jeffries

    Wednesday, November 7, 2012

  • ANY plan by the private sector, especially one which keeps the airfield open, is automatically better than the wooly ideas and lack of coherent thought we can expect and will get from any council. The private sector makes money and has to , to survive. The public sector doesn't make money, it spends our council taxes, usually incompetently. The combination of that and council ownership of RAF Coltishall is therefore as bad as it gets. Also who gave them permission to spend our taxes in this way?

    Report this comment

    windup

    Thursday, November 8, 2012

  • Councils actually have quite a reasonable track record helping businesses. Dont the County Council run a very successful farming set up with lots of small farm tenants? And I am sure several councils have run starter units for small businesses. Then there is the business centre at Hethel which is run by the County Council. Was it the Councils that started Norwich airport? I am sure there are more examples. On the other hand there are plenty of failed private businesses out there. The private sector record on ex-airbases is particulalrly poor! I am not familiar with the Hans Group - are there and successful local devlopments they have delivered?

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    Fred

    Friday, November 9, 2012

  • Dave B

    Wednesday, November 7, 2012

  • DaveB www.scottow-wind.co.uk Sorry if this spoils your day even further!

    Report this comment

    windup

    Wednesday, November 7, 2012

  • Dave B

    Wednesday, November 7, 2012

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

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