Revamp of RAF West Raynham air base is taking off

North Norfolk District Council Leader Tom Fitzpatrick officially opened The Kiptons hub at The Kiptons, West Raynham. Picture: Ian Burt North Norfolk District Council Leader Tom Fitzpatrick officially opened The Kiptons hub at The Kiptons, West Raynham. Picture: Ian Burt

Tuesday, June 3, 2014
3:58 PM

The latest stage of a multi-million pound redevelopment of a former RAF site near Fakenham into a vibrant new community has been celebrated.

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RAF West Raynham

RAF West Raynham was built between 1938 and 1939, and became a major operations base for RAF missions during the Second World War and the Cold War.

During the 1940s, Bomber Command lost 86 aircraft on operations launched from the base – 56 Blenheims, 29 Mosquitos and a Beaufighter.

In the mid to late 1950s, it became a Central Fighter Establishment, and from then onwards it hosted squadrons of aircraft including Meteors, Javelins, Hunters and eventually Canberras, which remained until the end of 1975 when the base was finally closed for flying.

After that, RAF West Raynham operated as a Bloodhound surface to air missile unit until 1991.

It was closed by the Ministry of Defence in 1994, but retained as a strategic reserve.

Having lain derelict for more than a decade the Ministry of Defence sold the site to housing developers in 2006 who sold it on a year later.

That company went into administration and The Kiptons development has been ongoing since 2012.

It is being undertaken by the administrators together with Investec Bank.

Members of The Kiptons community and former RAF West Raynham residents are working on a campaign for a permanent memorial to those who served at RAF West Raynham.

• To find out more or make a donation, email paul.lloyd@gmx.co.uk.

North Norfolk District Council leader Tom FitzPatrick was a special guest at the opening of a new shop, cafe and pub, named The Kiptons Hub, on Saturday.

This is part of the development of a new community called The Kiptons, which features some 170 homes on the former RAF West Raynham base.

A separate residential area, called The Orchard, nearby, which was originally for the officers and senior airmen, contains dozens of homes which are undergoing major refurbishments.

West Raynham Business Park has been created and a new children’s play area has been built following a £25,500 donation from Good Energy, which plans to build a major solar farm nearby.

West Raynham's disused airbase, pictured from the air in 2005. Picture by Mike Page.West Raynham's disused airbase, pictured from the air in 2005. Picture by Mike Page.

The Kiptons Residents’ Association has been established and a management team of a dedicated core of residents has worked hard to bring forward The Kiptons Hub and the play area.

The hub is being run by volunteers and profits will be reinvested to improve its facilities.

Mr FitzPatrick, who is also leader of the Conservative Group at Norfolk County Council, said: “It is fantastic to see the progress that has been made here since last August.

“Good quality homes and jobs is exactly what we need.

North Norfolk District Council Leader Tom Fitzpatrick in the new play area at The Kiptons, West Raynham. Picture: Ian BurtNorth Norfolk District Council Leader Tom Fitzpatrick in the new play area at The Kiptons, West Raynham. Picture: Ian Burt

“This is a safe place for children and there is a real close-knit community here.”

Becky Palmer, district councillor for The Raynhams Ward, said: “The work that’s been done here is brilliant and it’s great to see young families getting together in this way.”

Jacqueline Mattock, a volunteer at the hub, said: “I’ve lived here for six years and there has been lots of unrest, with some people losing their homes, so it’s great to see things now on the up.”

Are you working to redevelop a community? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk.

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