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.
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.