Notes from the RAF Halton Stakeholders Meeting – 4 June 2018

The latest RAF stakeholders meeting regarding the closure of the site happened on the 4th June. Unlike earlier meetings the format was quite different. It started off with a brief introduction by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation and a re-iteration that the base was closing in 2022. They had decided we were to break into separate groups looking at four different aspects, before coming back together to present our conclusions to the whole group. The areas for review were:
– the built environment
– the natural environment
– traffic
– heritage

At the last meeting we had been given a very speedy overview of their plans. So rather than giving us more detail and answering our outstanding questions, we were given the opportunity to feedback to them what we would like to happen. I was on the built environment team. Fortunately we had already given some thought to what we would like to happen in Halton with the development of the land. Consequently I was well prepared and able to articulate some of the community issues and desires.

Many good points were raised by all the groups. The traffic on Upper Icknield Way was raised as a concern, as was the lack of footpaths through the main site area once the RAF have moved out.

While I had a long list of items to articulate, one of the key ones was the protection and development of the sports facilities by the development of a Sports Village. By having five national/regional sports centres of excellence located in Halton utilising the facilities, it brings many advantages to the area:
– better alternative than utilising the land for residential housing
– provides a sustainable future for the sports facilities going forward
– protects provision of the sporting facilities to local sports clubs
– protects the openness and green aspect of the area
– creates employment opportunities
– helps deliver the community and heritage elements.

While this proposal is gaining some traction with the powers that be, it does need all our support, given the DIO Treasury directive that they need to optimise the money they make.

It strikes me that the DIO are committed to close the site even if the timing may slip from 2022. The issue for me is to see the total picture planned for the site. The 1000 houses in the Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan is apparently stage 1. We need to know just how many houses there will be so that the infrastructure is properly sized and configured. Being a ‘Garden Village’ may be one way to ensure the funding is there to do that.

Brian Thompson, Chairman Halton Parish Council

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