The Tale of Two Airfields

Once upon a time there were plans to build a world class Eco town on the ex RAF base at Coltishall.  A Norfolk born developer submitted plans for a best in class development which he hoped would allow him to leave a legacy for local residents would enjoy.

However he found out, after spending a lot of money on his plans that the site would also have to house a prison.  This was not in the original plans and he had to abandon all of his plans to leave a legacy development as the government of the day would not allow the sale of the land without the planned prison.  A local community group was set up called Coltishall Eco Town Action Group (CETAG - to fight the planned development.

On 30 November 2006, RAF Coltishall was officially handed over to Defence Estates (the MoD agency responsible for all UK Military sites) who are to handle the disposal of the site, and will be formally known as MoD Coltishall until its ultimate disposal and HMP Bure was built

We then had the almost overnight transfer of the planned Eco town to another so called old airfield at Rackheath and the MoJ looked for a buyer for the rest of the sight although they were a little cagey about this as reported

The Ministry of Justice then in Jan 2011 confirmed TAG Aviation (Stansted) Ltd. as the preferred bidder for the ex RAF Coltishall site.  We now hear after Tag Aviation pulled out that Norfolk County Council (NCC) are planning to buy the Coltishall site using public money to provide aggregate, from breaking up the runway and old buildings, for the construction of the proposed Northern Distributor Road (NDR). 
This is despite an alternative bid on the table from the Hans House Group of Companies that is fully funded by private equity money, without recourse to third party debt or public subsidy.  Artemis/Hans House has publically announced its bid, which has the following elements:
  • £4.1m cash to pay for all costs associated with the separation and reconnection of all main services to HMP Bure, estimated at £1.5m.
  • A substantial budget to fit out and refurbish all key buildings to tenant’s specific requirements.
  • The provision of “green” electricity sufficient for 100% requirement of HMP Bure for the next 20 years at the same price or less than the MoJ is currently paying.
  • The gift of free accommodation to the Spirit of Coltishall Association, sufficient for it to create a Heritage Centre.
This situation beggars several questions as follows:
  1. Why is NCC planning to use public money to buy Coltishall when there is a viable bid on the table using private money and providing employment opportunities?
  2. What happens if they do buy it and the NDR does not go ahead?
  3. Isn’t the runway “listed” therefore preventing it from being dug up?
  4. How, if NCC plans were successful, would the local roads cope with the increase in haulage traffic transporting the aggregate? (Estimated 28,888 lorry movements along inadequate local roads and bridges).
The list of questions is never ending.  However the over riding primary question has to be:

“How have we ended up in a situation whereby an old WWII airfield, that has been producing food for the last 60 years, is to be dug up to provide thousands of unnecessary houses.  In order to service this planned development a dual carriageway, with 11 roundabouts, has to be built using aggregates from an old WWII airfield that will be dug up?”

Local residents now face the prospect of two ruined landscapes, with hectares of food producing land removed from the food chain, thousands of houses built that no one will buy, years of construction traffic in and around the Broads and a road to nowhere that will increase the amount of carbon in the atmosphere!


  1. Hey SNUB, can you not see the almost identical scenario that the consecutive governments have been 'caught' up in...namely the levenson's enquiry findings of the Murdoch,police and government department corruptions?.The Norfolk county council and Broadland district councils' corruption and dealings are in ratio,simply the 'plankton' emulating the 'sharks'.But what is really frightening, is that they ALL have the 'gaul' to continue 'front','front' and 'front' their 'ill-actions' to the bitter end. Anyone for tennis with Messers.Mackie,Murphy,Proctor,Kirby and now,Vincent.West Norfolk Man.

  2. Here we go again, yet another madcap scheme by our local authority to waste public money when a private company will provide a better scheme at no cost to the taxpayer. Our County Council tells us they are so hard up that they are having to cut care for the elderly, bus services and many other vital items, yet they have the money for this crazy scheme. Surely it is high time they got their priorities right. They obviously do not understand the historic reasons why we in Norfolk love RAF Coltishall. Cllr Jordan was obviously too young to appreciate what it means, he just wants to dig our history up. We must remember all these councillors at the next election.

  3. These Council leaders and their pals would not be tolerated in the private sector. They only exist in councils because they have access to huge sums of public money that thet can gamble with.
    They have no qwarms in wasting huge sums of public money no matter how absurd the ideas.
    They have no honour and no conscience and pretend they are actualy serving the public when they are merely trying to fulfil their own fantasies. They are hypocrits and a disgrace.

  4. Councils should do what they were formed to do and stick to providing services to the public.
    They are not cabable of undertaking a project such as RAF Coltishall airbase and making it a success.
    It would damage this region and it's future economy is this famous airbase is asset stripped.

  5. The Council fear that the continued viability of an alternative to Saint Faiths would place their development strategy in question. If they destroy Coltishall they remove that option. It just shows how narrow their perspective really is.
    The arguments against Coltishall as a suitable site for Norwich Airport have been destroyed by the NDR proposals

  6. Is this plan being promoted by the County Coucil because the GNDP have no jurisdiction over the airfield?

  7. One additional question - why and how is a County Council that is cutting key frontline services planning to pay for this massive proposed investment

  8. Hey Dan, why are you not contacting the 'press' to let them know what the 'hell' is going on or are you as fed-up with 'Arse-ant' press as we all are. West Norfolk man.