RAF Coltishall has been bought by Norfolk County Council for £4m, with council leaders insisting the purchase is good value for taxpayers.

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Months of talks over the future of the former Battle of Britain station, which closed with the loss of 650 jobs six years ago, came to an end yesterday, with the council officially taking over the 600-acre site.

The council’s decision to buy the base from the Ministry of Justice, has attracted criticism, with question marks over whether the authority should be spending such an amount at a time when it is having to make cuts and savings.

But council leaders and officers, during a tour of the base yesterday, insisted the base was well worth the outlay and would create a “significant income stream” for the council.

The council says it is still coming up with ideas for what to do with the base, but possibilities put forward include returning some of the land for farming, offering hangers and some of the other 300 buildings at the site for businesses and providing housing.

The runway could be ripped up to use as aggregate, with the council having previously suggested that could be used in the proposed northern distributor road, but councillors said there were other options such as keeping the runway and lining it with solar panels.

As well as the initial £4m outlay, figures provided by the council showed once other costs, including £1m on infrastructure improvements, site security and immediate repairs are taken into account, the total bill for taking on the base is £6.5m.

However, the council says selling off land, including for up to 250 homes, would net an estimated £3.6m, and breaking up roads to sell as aggregate would raise a further £2m.

They estimate that annual revenue from employment, storage, agricultural uses and solar panels would bring in £662,300 a year within five years.

Cliff Jordan, cabinet member for efficiency, said: “It has been a long and challenging road to get to the stage where we are now, but I am delighted that we can now announce that the county council has bought the site and we are ready to realise its long term potential.

“I am convinced that the price we have paid for the site represents excellent value for money for council taxpayers and that, over time, it can generate a very useful income for the authority.

“No ideas are set in stone and we very much welcome the thoughts of local people and those from more widely across Norfolk. Equally we are open to suggestions regarding a new name for the site.”

The council is working with Cold War experts from the University of East Anglia and English Heritage over how to make the most of the rich military heritage of the site, possibly through a heritage trail.

Another option is to create community woodland and allotments for local people.

But Ann Steward, cabinet member for economic development, said suggestions that Norwich International Airport should move there, or that it could be used as another airport did not make good sense.

She said there had already been considerable interest from businesses keen to set up at the base and that it would benefit all of Norfolk.

She said: “We feared the site could remain unsold or bought speculatively and left unused for even longer. This is why we have purchased it for the benefit of local people and the wider Norfolk economy.”

Norfolk County Council chairman Ian Monson yesterday raised the flag of Norfolk on the re-installed flagpole at the base, saying it represented a “new dawn”.

Rival bidder Bruce Giddy, managing director of the Hans House Group of Companies, had bid £4.1m for the base. He wanted to install a 250-acre solar farm, to create a heritage centre and aviation museum and to offer a home to engineering and aircraft-building firms.

The Badersfield Residents Campaign Committee has also expressed its concerns about the plan, opposing digging up of the runway and any plan for wind turbines there.

Steve Riley, chairman of the committee has questioned which businesses would want to set up there, so far from major roads.

He submitted a petition to the council, signed by 82pc of residents on the Badersfield estate, saying the householders would rather see a solar farm and the development as a fully intact base.

But Barbara Rix, Broadland District councillor for Buxton ward, said: “I am fully supportive of Norfolk County Council buying the site, as are the local people I have spoken with. “It has been sad to see the site left disused for so long, especially when we are so desperate for jobs in the area.

“We need to have the site in use as soon as possible, especially as this year is not going to be a happy year economically, so anything that can be done to create employment opportunities can only be a good thing.”

The council is still looking for suggestions about what the base should be used for and will meet the Coltishall community liaison reference group, on Monday.

A master plan for the base’s future is due to be published in June.

23 comments

  • The runway would make a WONDERFUL drag racing strip. Noise won't be a problem, as it would still be quieter than when it was an airbase. It would bring in plenty of income.

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    Lord Elf

    Saturday, January 12, 2013

  • Cliff Jordan says he welcomes the thoughts of local people and those from more widely across Norfolk. The fact is local peoples views are ignored. How can Cliff Jordan make such a statement when he and his cabinet members ignored the views of 65.516 people in West Norfolk. I am sure Wheelabrator will have a few ideas for the site they are the only people that you listen to these days.The bombshell will drop after the election. You are all out.

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    Jack

    Saturday, January 12, 2013

  • Perhaps the council should ask Bruce Giddy, Hanse House, if he will sell them his business plan! That way the runway stays where it is, there will be, amongst other things, an engineering education centre, a heritage museum, a training centre for the emergency services and a solar energy array to power much of what is needed. All fully costed of course so the council would have an idea of how much tax payers money they would have to spend!!! unfortunately that sensible plan does not allow for free hardcore for the NDR so it is no go with the council.

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    Wymondham boy

    Saturday, January 12, 2013

  • Iffy Cliffy has done it then. Double crossed the good people of Norfolk yet again. Public opinion was against buying the site. Also bidding less than a private consortium which HAS to be investigated, I have written to both Local MP's, please do the same. These so called council lords, who should represent us, are nothing short of devious. The flag was raised on Friday, should have been half mast as the death of RAF Coltishall. Mind you the flag has been removed now. And as for Barbara Rix as local District Councillor, has anyone told her what day it is, because she has no idea. She knows what the local opinion was.

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    Commander500

    Monday, January 14, 2013

  • I am starting a campaign action group over this. I want to get as amny people together who feel that what the Council are doing is wrong and that if unchallenged then they will 'steam-roller' their 'plans' through and before you know it then yet another part of our heritage will be descimated. I have received various information from a good source including Conservation reports etc that i's imagine the NCC would rather people didn't know about. My email address is: jason.himpson@virgin.net Lets get together and stand up for RAF Coltishall, all those who served here deserve it.

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    Jason

    Friday, January 18, 2013

  • Keep trying to post up an email i sent to NCC but it won't posat it up. Have they got their hands on the EDP site too?

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    Jason

    Tuesday, January 15, 2013

  • So they take our money, then they can find £6.5 million they have hoarded, then most likely they will use our money to cover the place in solar cells, which will then be subsidised by our energy bills...will our rates go down? Or their pension pots get better? Got to love Governments style!

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    WTH

    Saturday, January 12, 2013

  • Just seeing that picture of these imbeciles standing in front of the hangar where I proudly served, working on No. 2(T) squadron Lightnings, winds me up. To go from a proud place and an important part of the Cold War, to having these monkeys now "owning" it brings me to tears. Especially when they all know our views, surely they read these comments, but still went ahead with the purchase anyway, KNOWING that none of the taxpayers wanted them to. I really wonder where these people come from. I know where they're going come May!

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    Windless

    Monday, January 14, 2013

  • On Monday i sent this email to Norfolk County Council, i doubt they'll reply. But you never know I read with utter dismay that you are in the last steps to buy the former RAF Coltishall You have no idea as to what a chance you have to help Coltishall, a potential missed, all you are intersted in is the hardcore that the runways, hardstandings and perimeter track will offer. Total destruction, that's all that will occur as Councils have no clue when it comes to preservation all they see is ...........well, really nothing. You've bought the site but with no 'game plan' and just a 'wing it' kind of approach. Yes, you do a good job of 'spinning' things to make it look as though you have some kind of clue but deep down all you want is to destroy a wonderful piece of our countries aviation history. Of which i am passionate about. I'm a keen airfield enthusiast, a member of the Airfield Research Group, The 95th Bomb Group Association and Bentwaters Aviation Society of which i am a staff member at their Cold War museum. I therefore feel that i at least have some knowledge of this subject, which brings me onto the matter of your 'Cold War' person at the UEA, who is this and what did they suggest, if such a person exists i very much doubt that the destruction of a historic monument is the what they would recommend. RAF Coltishall is of significance importance in a number of areas, it was the first base to have the English Electric Lightning when in 1960 it was introduced to 74 squadron, this a many other areas make this a site to cherish, not wreck!! I really hope that the Hans House Group put an appeal towards your purchase as they had a full plan of the site from the start, this included using the site for aviation as well as a solar farm and for a purchase price of £4.1m. You though haen't a clue (or so you say) and you got it at a price of £4m. How did you get the site for a CHEAPER price than a rival bidder, highly suspicious. I am a council tax payer and do not like to see my money going towards this scam, sorry, scheme. Cost cuts and cut backs a plenty and you manage to find this cash from somewhere. Very convenient wouldn't you say. So, to reiterate. A: You only want the site just to rip the site apart B: No definate plan as to what will come of the site, history counts for nothing C: The area can not sustain large industrial estates as the road network is not good D : Buying the site with OUR money even though you are suppose to be struggling E: If you manage to pull this off and actually prove all of us wrong then at what cost to the taxpayer as councils are really good at wasting other peoples money. F: What about the transfer of government (public) property between one dept and another so why are we being charged in the first place? I doubt any of what i have said in the above will be taken on board as you'll probably determined to plough on regardless of others feelings or requests. Please prove me wrong, i await your reply. Jason Himpson

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    Jason

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • How on earth can the council say that buying the air base is good value for money when they're still coming up with ideas about what they can do with. Absolutely barking. I don't think this lot has more than a few brain cells to share between them.

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    Betty Swallocks

    Saturday, January 12, 2013

  • Sorry Norfolk County Council but spending 4million, plus the other million put aside, and untold expense for clearing up the contamination if the runway is indeed broken up is NOT GOOD VALUE for the Norfolk Taxpayer. That money could have been used to keep or improve essential services which you have cut because we have no money. Hanse House intended to develop this site, their fully costed business plan is incredibly impressive, with their own money at no cost at all to the Norfolk Taxpayer.

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    Joy, King's Lynn

    Saturday, January 12, 2013

  • When i heard the news about this on Look East (110113) my heart literally sank. As a keen 'airfielder' and member of the Airfield Research Group i am against the NCC getting their greedy hands on Coltishall. They have no interest whatsoeverin the history of the base and as for their 'plans' well it all seems to me as though they are making it up as they go. 'cold War experts' what utter rubbish. The NCC haven't consulted anyone of any real standing i very much doubt. If they did then they would be told to keep the base as is and ehance its historic potential. All they can see is a ;large amount of aggregate that they can pull out of the site. Finally, has something very suspicious going on seeing as how the other bidder, Hans House Group actaully bid HIGHER than NCC !! HHG have a far better 'game plan' and want to be sensitve to the site. Don't just think of money, consider what the site means. Please Hans House, object.

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    Jason

    Saturday, January 12, 2013

  • This smells like a back of a fag packet,knee-jerk response to both their own and George Osborne's election strategy based on a dash for growth.I believe this particular group of Conservatives think Norfolk is one big business park and we should not be at all worried if everything is concreted over.How do they fancy an incineratorbusiness park in Cringleford?

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    Peter Watson

    Saturday, January 12, 2013

  • How did they win the bid with a lower offer? How did they win the bid when their only ideas seem to be a copy of Hans' ideas? And if Hans had won the bid, how much would that have cost the tax payers of NN? Zero?

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    Kempster

    Monday, January 14, 2013

  • It just gets better, they are now going against the private sector. Self important without a clue, roll on May lets vote these people out we need a new start. They are just drowning in corruption and there is only one way out.

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    Sweet cheeks

    Saturday, January 12, 2013

  • Love the picture. Only missing the Murph who is hiding under a stone at the moment. First Steward who is well remembered for the booklet she "edited" on how to use left over food with my favourite left over recipe ever. It used more smoked salmon than my family uses in a year but then we cannot live on expensive food items like Ms Steward and have so much left over. We are not County Councillors. Then Borratt who is now busying himself getting his unlovely moniker in the newspaper in the most bizarre ways he can especially as he thinks he is going to take over the Council. You are a legend in your own snackbreak Boratt, nowhere else. Then Cliffie - whose sneaky ability to always be standing next to the person who can keep him in a wholly undeserved important position is also legendary. And then there's some other nobody wearing a stupid necklace to make himself look important. Total failures all of them. And they are in charge of chucking our money around. We need help to save us from this lot.

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    Electra

    Monday, January 14, 2013

  • Sweet cheeks that's not like you, I thoought it was only Labour that you detest. So NCC is still coming up with a plan, hasn't got ideas, is open to suggestions, etc. Sounds like a scandalous use of £4M to buy the site on spec. In the EDP paper it says Cliffy would like the public to suggest names for the site. What about Gaffer's folly in his honour? Come on Hans House, get that judicial review going.

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    Police Commissioner ???

    Saturday, January 12, 2013

  • Im now 21 and grew up near Coltishall, watching the planes go past the end of the runway! It was a special place to so many and still holds an amazing amount of its history and these farcical jokers that are the council buy it because they 'can'. How they can get away with things like this is beyond me and sooner or later we will have a county full of houses and industrial units! Forget history as that doesnt show these fools pound signs. I'm ashamed and saddened!

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    Harry Harrison

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • None of these idiots should be allowed out of secure accomodation. Be sure to vote all of them out in May

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    windup

    Monday, January 14, 2013

  • Meanwhile in the Land of the Pixies "It seemed like a good idea at the time, "Buy Now, Plan Later" - Jokers and Fools spending our money

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    Farquarson-Smythe

    Sunday, January 13, 2013

  • Incredibly wasteful and a vague decisions by a self centred clan of cllr.s. I would not be surprised if Hanse House challenges this cobbled up deal.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Saturday, January 12, 2013

  • http:www.airfieldinformationexchange.orgcommunityshowthread.php?805-Coltishallpage16 See my post, no:159

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    Jason

    Tuesday, January 15, 2013

  • In the private sector world, good value for money would result in profit. So I'm assuming with the profit that NNDC make, we're going to enjoy cheaper council tax?

    Report this comment

    Kempster

    Monday, January 14, 2013

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

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