Your questions on RAF Coltishall’s future

The public consultation into the Norfolk County Council's draft plans for the development of RAF Col

The public consultation into the Norfolk County Council's draft plans for the development of RAF Coltishall, organised by the Skeyton Residents' Company Ltd. Tim Edmunds from the Norfolk County Council. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: copyright: Archant 2013

Norfolk County Council brought RAF Coltishall for £4m last year, saying it would create jobs and generate money for the council. But recent activity has caused concern in the village of Badersfield, next to the former airbase. Here, residents quiz council bosses on plans for the site.

Views from the control tower at the former RAF Coltishall. Photo: Bill Smith

Views from the control tower at the former RAF Coltishall. Photo: Bill Smith

Q If they have plans for more housing then what are their plans for additional schooling places, as all local schools are already filled to capacity?

Sarah Smith – Badersfield

Tim Edmunds, Coltishall project sponsor: 'One of the things that we are seeking to do as we take forward the housing proposal, because essentially Badersfield is the old MOD housing so there are very limited facilities to those local residents, we will bring forward with our plans additional community facilities.

First Gulf War murals in the hangars at RAF Coltishall. Photo: Bill Smith

First Gulf War murals in the hangars at RAF Coltishall. Photo: Bill Smith

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'We're already talking to community groups about things like extra sporting facilities.

'But we fully expect probably as our plans play out things like additional school places perhaps even a new primary school for that local community might well feature in those plans going forward.'

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Reporter Neil Perry: 'So at the moment it's too early to say but there would be plans for extra schooling?'

TE: 'Absolutely. What we want to do is to create a high quality, sustainable settlement at Badersfield and grow the facilities available to local residents.'

Q Why did Norfolk County Council waste our money buying the place without a proper business plan?

Pauline Peters – Badersfield

TE: 'I suppose the simple answer to that is we want to create jobs and we want to raise income for the council.

'In terms of the business plan, I think what I would hope your listeners might reflect upon is we're not a closed set of private investors that will just do what we want to do, so we've gone through a process consulting the public, taking their views, listening to what people want and actually honed our plans as a council with the views of the local residents so we that can bring something forward that we can all be proud of.'

Reporter: 'So you hope by the time this process has been completed, no one will think it's a waste of money?'

Bev Spratt, (pictured right) chairman of the economic development sub-committee: 'I don't think so, no, and I fully agree with what my officers say on this issue, and we have got - with the government cutting local money to local councils - this is the idea.

'We're looking at different avenues to help with the services which we provide and hopefully after a few years this will come on stream and help those services.

'I mean social services and children's services always need money and I don't think the government are going to be able to help with that like they did in the past.'

TE: 'One of the things I would perhaps say - yes we bought it for £4m, but with the portfolio of tenants that we've already secured, with the work that we've done to turn around the decline that was allowed to set in, we've added a lot of value to the site.

'So if somebody wanted to buy that site off us now they've probably got to pay in excess of £12m.

'So if somebody thought I bought a house two years ago at £4m it's already gone up, we believe, to circa £12m.

'So in terms of the county council and it's asset it's been a very good deal for the council.'

QDo Norfolk County Council have any plans for HGV re-routing so they don't go through the middle of our village?

Allistair McFarlane – Badersfield

TE: 'Absolutely, and if Allistair was to look on the county council's website at the committee report that cllr Spratt's committee considered it does include plans showing the detail of two options for creating a new route to take all of the commercial traffic out of the village.

'We've already done work in Buxton with LaMIS in the fairstead at Scottow to actually address concerns about lorries in those communities and we want to take the lorries out of Badersfield as well.

'We don't control the land to do that but we have reached an agreement with the landowner in principal.

'Let's just say we're working through the commercial details of that and we would hope to be able to announce something in the not too distant future about that.'

BS: 'I mean the priority is the PV farm to get that nailed down and hopefully that will be done in the fairly near future and then look at the entrance which is highly important because you know for business we want a good entrance and that will help the whole site.'

QNow sugar is going to be stored in some of the hangars – what protection has been put in place for the murals inside? Can Norfolk County Council be trusted with the heritage of RAF Coltishall?

Shaun – Badersfield

TE: 'The whole site is important in heritage terms to varying degrees and things like the murals are obviously very important.

'Whenever we bring forward a development, whether it's storage in the hangar or conversion of something for a particular new commercial use we will put in place the necessary measures to make certain the heritage is protected.

'So we assure Shaun that things are in hand, the site is in good hands in the county council's hands and we will take it forward looking after the heritage as we go.'

QHave Norfolk County Council been approached by anyone with a viable business plan for re-opening the existing facilities on the site such as the bowling alley and swimming pool?

Simon Guy – Badersfield

TE: 'In terms of viable business plans we've not yet agreed any business plan with any particular group for community uses.

'We have a commercial proposal to bring the gymnasium back into public use, a play barn which the public would be able to access.

'We believe those business plans are credible and are taking forward the lease to do that.

'We have interest in the theatre and things like the swimming pool, but it's fair to say we're at the early stages of working with the committee groups that have expressed that interest to actually make certain that if we did hand them the key, that in a few years time they're not going to hand it back being in a financial muddle.

'So we're not yet at that point but we're working with groups to try and bring those things back to life.'

Reporter: 'So is your message to the people in the area very much be patient, there's a lot of work still to do?'

BS: 'Yes, that is, and we're hoping to bring them all with us.

'Indeed we have quite a lot of meetings with the parish councils and what have you.

'I dare say they won't all be happy with what's happening there, but we are trying to keep it open and transparent to keep all those people happy.

'In a few years time I think they'll see the benefits.

'We've just lost the Westwick factory unfortunately and we're trying to get work at Coltishall and that's highly important.'

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