Planning application could see diggers ripping up RAF Coltishall runway this spring

RAF Coltishall from the air. Picture; MIKE PAGE RAF Coltishall from the air. Picture; MIKE PAGE

Monday, February 10, 2014
7:00 AM

Heavy lorries and machinery could roll up to former RAF Coltishall this spring and start digging up its runway if a planning application is approved by the site’s owners, Norfolk County Council.

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Norfolk County Council’s vision for former RAF Coltishall

Norfolk County Council has put together a “Development Vision” for former RAF Coltishall following an eight-week consultation period last summer.

Its short-term proposals include:

■ a 50-acre solar farm with a capacity of up to 10 MW

■ developing the Officers’ Mess for housing. A full planning application is expected with work starting this summer. It would be followed by a rolling programme of housing development

■ inviting anyone interested in becoming a County Farm tenant to get in touch with a view to using land on the flying field area from late this year

■ creating controlled public access to a heritage trail around the old playing field area with passes issued to local residents

■ focusing on marketing and developing business and employment opportunities in the technical area, which includes the four hangars.

The 18-month scheme could see a peak 100 daily HGV movements through a housing estate.

The application, by the council’s contractor Lafarge Tarmac, has horrified many residents in nearby Badersfield, and caused concern to those interested in the former Battle of Britain base’s proud heritage.

But the council says it makes “economic sense” to put assets on the site to work and any inconvenience would be time limited.

The council, which bought the 600-acre base for £4m in January last year, hopes to recoup some of its investment by using an estimated 140,000 tonnes of aggregates from the runway in the proposed Postwick Hub, A12/A143 link road at Great Yarmouth, and other road improvement schemes.

Steve Riley, who is  the new Broadland District councillor for the Aylsham ward.Steve Riley, who is the new Broadland District councillor for the Aylsham ward.

It would be transported through part of residential Badersfield to the B1150 North Walsham to Norwich road.

Lafarge wants to remove concrete from the northern and southern Cold War extensions to the base’s runway, together covering just over 30ha. The middle section would remain intact.

There have already been a number of objections to the application, and one supporting response.

Both North Norfolk District Council and Broadland District Council, whose areas meet on the base, have warned of possible unexploded ordnance in the area.

Dave Welsh.Dave Welsh.

Steve Riley, Badersfield spokesman on the council’s RAF Coltishall community liaison reference group, said most residents were “aghast and appalled” at the plan.

“We are absolutely dismayed at the thought of 100 HGV movements, from 7am-6pm Monday to Friday and on Saturday mornings, coming through a housing estate where children are catching school buses, and people are constantly crossing the road to the shop and activities at the church. It is completely unsuitable,” said Mr Riley.

He claimed that the proposed route had come as a bombshell to residents who now felt angry and misled as the council had always said it would avoid homes.

Residents were also very concerned at the loss of runway which would remove any chance of an aeronautical business moving on to the site. And he believed that the council should not take any action until English Heritage had announced its decision on whether the runway should be protected.

RAF Coltishall Jaguars ready to depart at dawn for Bosnia in 1994.RAF Coltishall Jaguars ready to depart at dawn for Bosnia in 1994.

Dave Welsh, chairman of the Spirit of Coltishall Association which aims to keep alive memories of the base, said they had been talking to the county council, through the liaison group, from the beginning and hoped their influence had stopped initial plans to rip up the entire runway.

“Disturbing any of the runway is a shame because it breaks its history,” said Mr Welsh.

The original Second World War grass runway was superseded in the age of jet aircraft by concrete. The original Second World War grass runway was superseded in the age of jet aircraft by concrete. The runway was extended in 1957 to cope with traffic from larger and faster second generation jet aircraft, such as the Hawker Hunter and the Gloster Javelin.

The base, which closed in 2006, was awarded conservation area status in 2010. A Second World War Spitfire pen and Cold War blast pens are also scheduled ancient monuments.

In its application Lafarge conceded that the removal of the runway extensions would cause “a degree of harm” to the conservation area, but said it would be outweighed by the benefit of bringing the site back into use.

A county council spokesman said that at the end of the work the site would be restored to similar levels and was likely to become agricultural grassland, with landscape planting to “acknowledge the location and extent of the line of the former runway.”

During the working period, some days would be quiet and some busy, resulting in an average of 34 movements a day.

The application will be considered by the county’s planning sub committee on March 21. The spokesman said their decision would be taken in a fair, unbiased and open way and officers’ advice would be impartial.

Nigel Smith, county council RAF Coltishall project manager, said the application followed a successful planing trial in December on the northern part of the runway. He urged those interested to air their views before the consultation period ended on March 20.

■ The application can be viewed online at: http://eplanning.norfolk.gov.uk/PlanAppDisp.aspx?AppNo=C/1/2013/1020

■ Let us hear your views on the application. Write to: EDPLetters@archant.co.uk or The Letters Editor, EDP, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

32 comments

  • Fact is they DID buy it and as Keith states, it needs to be put to work. Damned if you do and damned if you don't. It's an assett that is being used to generate money. Get over it!

    Report this comment

    Andy T

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • But there is a tarmacked access road at the northern end of the runway, have a look on Google Maps. Why would any traffic have to go through Badersfield? This whole affair gets odder and odder.

    Report this comment

    Cyril the Canary

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • Whatever they are going to do - get on with it! We need to start earning money from it.

    Report this comment

    The man on the Clapham Omnibus

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • We always said it would be an asset strip. up to 100 movements through our young community. During the extension to the prison we had issues with speeding and reckless driving by the HGVs, but at least it was infrequent and soon addressed. But 100 movements and associated dustnoise between 7 am and 5pm through the heart of the community doesn't make sense. Other routes were discussed, but now ignored by NCC (sorry, NPS) but now there's no money left (just how much has NPS made out of this so far?!!) they are looking for the cheap option. I hope we all recognise that they will be using spoil heapscurbsasphalt from around Norfolk to use as back fill to 'return it ' to a level field?! I feel sorry for whoever lives near where the existing aggregate is proposed to be going as its heavily contaminated and will leach into the watercourse, but also for our community getting everyone else's mess, and more. Come on , NCCNPS, time to grow up and LISTEN to the consultations and publiclocal opinions.The joy of being in NCC is that if you mess up, you have a get-out clause and a golden handshake. Communities and the environment don't have such a lucky escape. Oh sorry, i forgot, you don't care!

    Report this comment

    jaybaxter

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • It's a damned pity they don't knock the county hall down and use the rubble from there. Just who do these charlatans represent?

    Report this comment

    Catton Man

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • Calm down everybody. First of all the council has to give the...er.....council...er...planning permission. It's bad enough the council subsidises Victory Housing then grants them permission for everything but the council granting the council permission. Conflict of interest if ever there was one.

    Report this comment

    jeffbridges769

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • It's a damned pity they don't knock the county hall down and use the rubble from there. Just who do these charlatans represent?

    Report this comment

    Catton Man

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • @Jason. Exactly mate - is precisely what I was talking about. The tarmac road that runs alongside the small Scottow church that leads you to the junction near the rugby ground on B1150. Just open up an access point, lay a temporary surface to the inner perimeter track and you have a hassle free route for all HGV traffic to enter and exit via Scottow Road (aka 'the mad mile' when I was serving at Colt). Then all traffic can access the B1150 at the larger T-junction (which has good visibility and approaches, rather than the tight t-junction at the Fairsteads, which is narrower, with surrounding houses and visibility issues. Has anyone actually got off their backside and visited the site and seen how simple an issue this is to resolve? This isn't rocket science - you start digging up from the Hautbois end of the runway, lorries trundle the hardcore northwards back along the untouched portion of runway, across a temporary PSP-style surface and out onto the B1150. No dust, no noise, no traffic problems ... some people just like a good whinge

    Report this comment

    Lucioperca

    Tuesday, February 11, 2014

  • A valid point made by a friend this morning was, if this site is not suitable for HGV traffic for an incinerator, as was claimed by Cllr.s and officers, how can they now allow access for HGV, up to 100 per week?

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • I would argue that it is entirely inappropriate for NCC to determine the planning application, in part because it is the landowner and in part because both the previous and the present Cabinets have been promoting very seriously the devlopment of the site. It may just about be acting lawfully in so doing, but it would be equally lawful for NCC to delegate the role either to Broadland DC or North Norfolk DC. that would give much more peace of mind to the great many local residents who will be affected by the works.

    Report this comment

    John Martin

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • The most sensible proposal to date was to use the site for aircraft spares recovery which would cause the runway to be used occasionally and make full use of the hangars. Come on NCC get a grip, or is there a hidden agenda?

    Report this comment

    beverley

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • Well said, JCW. Spot on!

    Report this comment

    The man on the Clapham Omnibus

    Tuesday, February 11, 2014

  • Yet another hair brained scheme from NCC, I have never know a council to waste money and upset the public like this lot of clowns, they really are priceless.

    Report this comment

    Sweet cheeks

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • re-open coltishall as an airport and knock down county hall and use that as aggregate for roads

    Report this comment

    mickthedig

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • Shame they are looking at ripping up the runway, spent nearly 4 years at Colt as a RAF photographer but nice to see 1 of my photos still being used 20 years on.

    Report this comment

    Nige G

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • if county want aggregates for the roads knock down county hall and re-open coltishall as an airport

    Report this comment

    mickthedig

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • If you need to find a blithering idiot, then start with a council

    Report this comment

    Windless

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • I suppose the roar of supersonic aircraft every day for an indefinite period would be preferable to the brief disturbance of a number of lorries five days a week for a limited duration. The fact is it is now a development opportunity and whether the council acquired it or a developer, the outcome would probably be the same.

    Report this comment

    JCW

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • Anyone who attended the public meeting at the Diplomat last Sept (2013) were told by the NCC representatives that the breaking of the runway extensions would go ahead. If there was to be objections or complaints, the last five months was the time to do it, not now. I'm afraid all hope was lost, regarding the camp, when the TAG bubble burst.

    Report this comment

    jack.plug

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • KeithS They never should of bought it, more wasted tax payers money.

    Report this comment

    Sweet cheeks

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • I thought everyone realised that the whole point of buying Colistall was to use the runway as agregate for the N25. After that it'll be sold for housing, with a developer's "promise" of services to be included, just like at Queen's Hills.

    Report this comment

    So_Many_Haters!

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • I've a feeling most of the people opposing the removal of the runway would also be against it being used by planes again on a permanent basis. The contractorslorries will do their job and move on - I really don't see what the issue is.

    Report this comment

    littlenewshound

    Friday, February 14, 2014

  • if county want aggregates for the roads knock down county hall and re-open coltishall as an airport

    Report this comment

    mickthedig

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • NDC probably bought the base as they wanted to build on the land and make money, some profits take time to realise. The problem being everyone has an opinion of what they should do, as long as it's not in their back yard.

    Report this comment

    KeithS

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • re-open coltishall as an airport and knock down county hall and use that as aggregate for roads

    Report this comment

    mickthedig

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • I'm confused here, is the ENTIRE runway or just the later extension going? Either way it's just a case of NCC running rough-shod over any kind of opposition, they've made their decision and sod the rest of us. Mind you, have they considered the 'can of worms' they will open when they start to lift the concrete and start to pull up 66 odd years of aviation related contamination? probably they have done the same as they have with every other thing else, put their head in the sand!!!!!

    Report this comment

    Jason

    Tuesday, February 11, 2014

  • But WHY did they buy it Andy? Watch this space, I feel sure there will be further revelations in the not too distant future. Quote "A spokesman said their planning decision would be taken in a fair, unbiased and open way and officers' advice would be impartial." That's a contradiction in terms if ever I heard one.

    Report this comment

    Sandy.L

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • The a RAF left 8 years ago and the site needs to be put to use. I find it ironic that the same people who object to ripping the runway up are the same who object to it being used for aircraft, the purpose it was intended for. Come on people, this site needs to pay for itself and if no one wants more flying then rip it up.

    Report this comment

    KeithS

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • It's a damned pity they don't knock the county hall down and use the rubble from there. Just who do these charlatans represent?

    Report this comment

    Catton Man

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • How can the NCC give itsself planning permission or doubtfully refusal. This Coincil is at the very least unethical and immoral. The NCC administration is only interested in stopping any aeronautical development at Coltishall, therefore rip up the runway and damn the environment, local infrastructure, and the voting public. I am appalled at the way these so called councillors are so disrespectful to public opinion

    Report this comment

    Commander500

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • I served two tours at RAF Coltishall and loved the place ... it was always known as "the best kept secret in the RAF". However much sentiment I hold for the place, I know the area well enough to say it is no different to most RAF units with awkward access to the main gate through a densely populated married quarters area. This whole debate of access for HGVs can be solved by making a temporary access point at the Scottow Church end of the airfield (north) and laying a temporary hardcore & PSP road surface where the old approach lights were mounted, through the fenceline to the perimtere track. All HGV movements in and out of the site then simply emerges out onto teh Scottow end of 'the mad mile' with no need to go anywhere near the old married quarters site.

    Report this comment

    Lucioperca

    Monday, February 10, 2014

  • It's a damned pity they don't knock the county hall down and use the rubble from there. Just who do these charlatans represent?

    Report this comment

    Catton Man

    Monday, February 10, 2014

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

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