Development Proposals could make RAF West Raynham Unique.

The second airfield that has recently seen proposals for new development is the large and complete site on Norfolk’s western side. It is RAF West Raynham. If these proceed, then West Raynham could be a unique development.

RAF West Raynham.

RAF West Raynham is a large airfield that operated well beyond the Second World War. It was home to some 20 squadrons and saw a range of aircraft including: Blenheims, Bostons, Tomahawks, Beaufighters, B-25 Mitchells, Mosquitos, B-17 Flying Fortresses, Canberras, Javelins and Bloodhound Missiles to name but a few.

It currently stands complete although a large part of it has been the focus of development since the RAF’s departure. Much of the former RAF housing has already been refurbished and sold off to private families; a solar park has also been built along the runway line and the accommodation sites developed sympathetically with the airfields history in mind.

Control Tower

The Grade II Listed Control Tower at West Raynham.

A recent report identified this site as being of “heritage value” and that whilst some of the buildings are “at risk” there is a strong desire to reuse buildings wherever possible. The only ‘listed’ building is the Control Tower (which is Grade II listed) which, along with the majority of the main buildings: Guard House, Station Headquarters, Chapel, Water Tower, District Heating Control Centre, four Hangers and the Training Dome, is in relatively good condition. A large majority of the remaining buildings were temporary or will require renovations to make them usable once again. The report states that:

“It is important that the character areas described keep their identity. The approach taken for existing buildings will vary according to the character area and the qualities of the specific buildings”.

The report also highlights the benefits of the MOD property, and that it provides suitable low-cost housing that would meet the Council’s housing target. It also states that the former technical area provides suitable accommodation for small industrial units or “start-up” businesses.

In essence, the survey illustrates the need to develop the site to fulfil the council’s need for housing whilst identifying the site as an important heritage site, and that the development should reflect this:

“The vision is to re-use and reinvigorate the site in a way that respects and celebrates the historic and architectural heritage of the site.”

The infrastructure of former RAF bases lend themselves to new villages; the layout, transport networks and available buildings, are perfectly suitable for the Garden Village idea. Open spaces intertwined with affordable accommodation and recreational facilities are all there. If this development goes ahead, then RAF West Raynham could become a well-preserved yet appropriately developed site that in the large part, reflects it historical importance and valued contribution to Britain’s defence network.

The full development brief can be found here from where the quotes were sourced.

West Raynham appeared in Trail 21.

West Raynham 042

Inside the Former officers Mess.

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6 thoughts on “Development Proposals could make RAF West Raynham Unique.

  1. I’ve told you before mate my heart and head are at loggerheads over things like this. On the one hand I want to preserve military history sites and on the other I understand the need for change. It’s a real balancing act. At least some of the heritage of the site is being maintained.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That I think is the key. Develop with sympathy and keep the historical aspect alive whilst utilising the sites to meet the needs the community. On the face of it, this example would be a good compromise. There’s further news this week abut a similar project, that goes one step further. Thanks Tony certainly a hot potato !

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a wonderful and historic ‘time-capsule’. One can only hope that much of the site will be faithfully restored and protected in whatever capacity that it’s new developers decide to lend the site to. Thank you for a wonderful and insightful write-up.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Let’s hope that they can do this sensitively, everybody is happy, and then some more airfields can be done. Theoretically, it is a great idea, although it would still be nice to see one RAF airfield restored as a museum.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed it would. The proposals and current development look sympathetic so far and norfolk do seen to be taking the history of these sites seriously. The third, is possibly the best as the whole site is a conservation area with many listed buildings. A heritage trail and information board is planned in. I shall publish more details this week, but it looks hopeful for both these places.

      Like

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