We recently published a post highlighting the proposed development of the former RAF Kings Cliffe airfield (Trail 6), and in particular the Glenn Miller Memorial located at Jack’s Green, which is part of Rockingham Forest in Northamptonshire, England (post 6/1/15).
The proposal, by the land owner/developer, Philip Ashton-Jones, states that a ‘caravan site’ with access and associated buildings would be built on part of the former airfield. This outlined plan includes the location of the memorial on the hangar base where Maj. Glenn Miller performed his final hangar concert (3rd October 1944) before his mysterious disappearance over the English Channel in December that year.
Whilst promoting the issue, Marcella, contacted John Griff at BBC Northants, who in turn asked for an interview on the Stuart Linnell Breakfast Show. Living in the U.S., this would prove interesting as there is a time difference of 5 hours. However, a suitable time was agreed and arrangements made for a pre-recorded rather than live interview.
The proposal has, unsurprisingly, been met with resistance from the local community. Some of the issues include: impact on local property and the current roads around Kings Cliffe which pass a quarry and lead to the back of Kings Cliffe village. The roads are very narrow, and unsuitable for high levels of traffic. The area is relatively high up and gives great views of the surrounding countryside, a reason why it is used by walkers, horse riders, cyclists etc. Furthermore, there is a wide range of wildlife including a herd of deer that roam freely through the forest – it is indeed an idyllic area of pristine and natural beauty.
Of course there is the NIMBY aspect, no one wants a holiday village in their back garden. There are fears of ‘development creep’ and damage to the local finely balanced ecosystem. To Aviation Trails, it is not only the environment, but it the future of the Glenn Miller Memorial that is at stake, as are the remains of the airfield where so many brave young men, who gave the ultimate sacrifice, flew from during the Second World War.
The BBC broadcast both sides of the debate, including an interview with the landowner/developer, Mr. Philip Ashton-Jones, who slipped into admitting it was not caravans but 55 ‘luxury lodges’ that are being proposed. This was one of several ‘suspicious’ actions, along with the time at which the planning application was made public (i.e. prior to the Christmas holiday when the planning offices were closed), that caused some concern. This action reduced the amount of time objectors had to raise their concerns.
We feel these issues and the memorial in particular, are an important part of our shared British and American history. RAF Kings Cliffe comes from an era that changed the world, and Maj. Glenn Miller was a man whose musical talents helped shape and develop popular music for years to come.
These ancient forests are now delicate ecosystems, the memorials, rapidly disappearing monuments to past generations and Anglo-American heritage. Both need protection from permanent and sustained damage.
The BBC site has the various interviews available through their website, (links are valid for 30 days from the 9th February 2015 – but may be available on archives). They are for entire shows, but we have noted the timings of the relevant parts.
The BBC news website article can be found here.
A facebook page here, anyone can access this.
The radio interview with Marcella can be found here at 1:39:20
The interview with Ian Sharpe and Mr Philip Ashton-Jones can be found here at 2:39:15
A further report from the site can be found here on the John Griff show at 1:15:30
A big thanks also goes to my good friend, Kevin Fleckner, who wrote in support of the memorial.
As an additional note, there is also talk of development on the nearby RAF Deenethorpe site, another Northampton historical site likely to disappear. See the BBC report here.
Andy Laing and Marcella Beaudreau