May 24 2013 Latest news:
By Alex Hurrell
Monday, July 2, 2012
A dogfight for ownership of former Battle of Britain base RAF Coltishall looked set to continue to the bitter end at a parish council meeting.
Norfolk County Council, the preferred bidder of site owners the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) was “within weeks” of exchanging contracts, Coltishall Parish councillors heard.
But rival for the base Bruce Giddy said his Hans House Group of Companies intended re-establishing itself as the MoJ’s preferred bidder as soon as possible.
The meeting, attended by about 30 members of the public, heard from Mr Giddy and Mike Jackson, Norfolk County Council’s director of environment, transport and development.
He said the council had stepped in after waiting in vain for six years hoping that a suitable buyer would develop the 600-acre site.
Mr Jackson revealed that the council had offered the MoJ “less than the typical price for agricultural land in Norfolk” and stressed that councillors believed the outlay would be recouped in the medium to long-term.
The county controversially proposes digging up the runway, turning much of the site back to agricultural use, developing some housing and attracting businesses into the old technical buildings.
Mr Giddy’s plans for the site include establishing Britain’s largest solar farm, “restrained” use of the airfield, and developing an aircraft museum and heritage centre.
Parish councillors agreed to hold an extraordinary meeting at a later date to discuss the issue.
Among their worries was the route of an estimated 30,000 lorries carrying runway hardcore for recycling as road aggregate.
Parish councillor Keith Childerhouse was concerned at the number of vocal Badersfield residents at the meeting, opposed to the county’s bid.
He said the meeting was primarily for the benefit of Coltishall parishioners.
But Badersfield resident Amanda Bowen said they had no parish council and relied on those of neighbouring villages to air their views.