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Base Preservation


I hope that you are well.

Planing application has at last been submitted. If any old Heyfordians would like to lend a hand, any letters(s) from the US might get the Council to sit up and realise the importance of this site. Letters to Cherwell District Council Planning Department Bodicote House Banbury OX15 4AA UK should be headed 'Redevelopment of former RAF Upper Heyford' and refer to the recent application submitted on 28 September but awaiting registration (and reference no.) or email to I would clearly like to see interested parties support the retention of all the military infrastructure; runways, buildings and fence and also the principle that the enabling funds (i.e. from the houses being allowed for that express purpose) should be concentrated on the heritage project which could have global significance (we have plans to link this with other sites on both sides of the 'iron curtain)'. Any personal touches would be important to individualise and show the level of interest in keeping a site of this importance for this and future generations to learn about the Cold War and the role of NATO etc. We would be grateful if you could give this application as much publicity as possible.


Daniel Scharf

Rules fear of airfield firms
From the Banbury Cake, first published Thursday 26th Apr 2007.

BUSINESSES on a disused airbase fear their livelihoods will be at risk if planning chiefs enforce strict rules on how the site should be used.

Dozens of businesses moved on to the base at Upper Heyford, near Bicester, after the US Air Force left in 1994.

But now they claim some of the site's 1,000 jobs are at risk under a planning blueprint approved by Cherwell District Council last month.

The North Oxfordshire Consortium, a group of housing developers that owns the base, shares the concerns.

Chief executive Keith Watson said Cherwell's plans to limit on-site car journeys, open up public access and replace family homes with single-occupancy houses were the main problems.

Logistics firm QEK, which employs 550 staff, claims Cherwell wants it to reduce the number of cars it stores on the base from 8,500 to about 3,000.

Boss Jim Olexa said: "We would not keep 550 jobs. If in five years we have to reduce the area we use to 14 acres, then we will have to consider relocating to a district that will welcome so many skilled jobs."

Although his firm didn't want to move, Mr Olexa reminded the council that QEK was the fourth largest employer in Cherwell and pumped £2m a month into the local economy through its payroll.

Ray Clarke, of record management firm Datacare, said the rules would mean only two vehicles a day could visit his offices in one of the former aircraft shelters.

Mr Clarke, whose firm employs 35 people, said: "It doesn't bear thinking about what might happen on this base if Cherwell District Council do what they say they will.

"Rather than helping businesses to expand and stay, they are making it as difficult as possible."

But George Reynolds, Cherwell's development portfolio holder, said planning delays had caused the current situation.

He said: "These businesses believed they were in a permanent situation. They are now realising they are not. Thais change been on the cards for ten years.

"The problem is it's not entirely anyone's fault."

Mr Reynolds said it was important to create a balanced community and Cherwell would do its best to keep the site's existing tenants.

He said: "Some businesses will stay, some will go. We are doing our level best to keep the businesses that want to stay."

The North Oxfordshire Consortium is preparing a planning application for the site, which will include 1,000 houses, a supermarket, two or three smaller shops, a school and museum.

From the Banbury Cake
© Newsquest Media Group 2007

Follow this link provided by Leo Barrish to view other archived articles about Upper Heyford:

Nov. 28, 2006

Dear Duane,

We have taken the initiative by making a planning application and would be grateful for any publicity you can give to this proposal and invite comment to The importance of the air base at Upper Heyford a few miles to the north of Oxford has recently been described by the central Government Department of Culture, Media and Sport as the most important Cold remains in the UK. However, this has not prevented the local authorities from trying to demolish essential parts of the military site.

After waiting ten years for progress to be made on the heritage project, The Oxford Trust for Contemporary History has taken the initiative and made a planning application to underline the obvious way forward, to have the operational area including runways, security fence, Hardened Aircraft Shelters and bomb stores designated a memorial site to the Cold War and military heritage. This leaves the area which was home to 6000 US citizens for the new settlement of up to 1000 houses (between 3-4000 residents). The application also spells out the mechanism for funding the memorial/heritage site from the new residential development. It points to the income which has been and could continue to be derived from inappropriate commercial uses of the Cold war airfield and buildings and why this should be prevented, as this area is developed with materials necessary for the understanding of the Cold war period. If the application is successful (it complies with all local and national conservation policies) Upper Heyford could become the UK (and possibly the European) centre for Cold War studies as well as a major visitor attraction. We would be grateful if you could draw this planning application to the attention of those associated with your work and we would be pleased to speak/correspond with anybody interested in this proposal at this stage or as it moves forwards.


Daniel Scharf for the Oxford Trust for Contemporary History

Monday, December 27, 2004

I think that your 'members' should know that the direct result of Frank [Dixon's] contribution to the latest public inquiry into the future of the air base is the recommendation that the following policy should apply,
"R4.2 Land at Upper Heyford will provide for a new settlement of about 1000 dwellings and necessary supporting infrastructure, including a primary school and appropriate community, recreational and employment opportunities, as a means of enabling the heritage interest of the site as a military base with Cold War associations to be conserved and appropriate environmental improvements to be carried out." For those not familiar with the way in which the British system of building permission works this policy means that the new settlement of about 1000 houses and 1500 jobs has been allowed only so as to enable the military base and its cold war associations to be conserved. My rough calculation is that this should release about £40 million ($75 million) for the conservation project. We have not yet got the owners, agents, councils, and English Heritage into line but it now seems very likely that the future of the air field and funding for its conservation have been secured. It only took 10 years to persuade the authorities that this was the right thing to do to enable this and future generations to understand what was actually going on at Upper Heyford from 1950 to 1994 and what the Cold War was all about.

The Oxford Trust for Contemporary History is preparing a capability document to explain to the North Oxfordshire Consortium how the heritage site can be managed. If any of the visitors to your site would be interested in participating then we would be pleased to hear from them and understand what they could contribute to this project in the formative and later stages. Contact for those wanting to help should be Frank Dixon at

Keep up the good work

Daniel Scharf"

Submitted courtesy of Daniel Scharf, Monday, December 27, 2004.

Submitted by John G. Hocker, Jr., 3918 Motor Vehicle Sqd, Sep 1951 - Sep 1954. Base might get frozen in history
Some hope to make it monument to Cold War

By Ellen Hale

From Ken Anderson, Sunday, 10 Nov 2002 (posted with his kind permission)

"I recently toured the base with the developers who have the option on the land. I work in the UK now and my firm is interested in reopening the base hospital as an NHS facility, I hope we can put the deal together would be great to see a piece of the base put to the use it was built for.

On the war memorial front, they told me that English Heritage is considering making three areas as cold war memorials; the QRA, WSA, and central command bunker. The planning consent for 5000 homes was turned down and they have been limited to a little over a thousand. Looks like the worlds largest car park will still be around. I live in the Oxford area these days and play baseball on the old diamonds in the summer so I am there quite a bit. Itís really sad. I was there in the late 70ís to mid 80ís so I remember the peak. I will keep you up-to-date as the debate progresses.

Great site! Thanks for the memories.

Warm Regards,

Ken Anderson"

There has been considerable debate and discussion about what will become of the base, so I recommend that you visit the Daily Telegraph online at to bring any newcomers up to speed. You'll have to register with them, but it doesn't take long. These articles are very informative and well worth the a minute of your time to understand the issues. I recommend the following articles:

Big guns line up to save Cold War base from development
By Philip Johnston, Home Affairs Editor
(Filed: 27/05/2002)
Monday, May 27, 2002 9:59 AM

Homes not aerodromes
(Filed: 27/05/2002)
Monday, May 27, 2002

Ghosts of an era of global tension
By Philip Johnston
(Filed: 27/05/2002)

I am going to post, with his kind permission, excerpts of some of the e-mails I have received from a gentleman who has been lobbying hard to help preserve as much of the base as possible. The following is provided courtesy of the Oxford Trust for Contemporary History.

Sun, 26 May 2002
Duane, I thought that it was time to bring you up to date on the application/appeal by the NOC (the developers with the option from the MoD to build on the site). On 12 June a public inquiry will begin with the Councils opposing the application to build 750 houses and permanently occupy 250 of the existing. They also want to remove the western end of the runway, reuse a number of buildings for employment purposes and remove the petrol distribution system.

English Heritage is the Govt's heritage experts and have recommended that the northern bomb store and a group of HASs [Hardened Aircraft Shelters] that had aircraft on permanent standby are scheduled as ancient monuments. There will also be a few buildings that are protected. However, they are not suggesting that the airbase should be preserved intact. The runway may not be protected and could well be excavated as valuable secondary aggregate. We have failed to persuade EH that it is practical to preserve the whole base. The Oxford Trust for Contemporary History will be trying to persuade the Inspector otherwise as it is clearly the airfield with a runway that has historic interest and not a few preserved buildings scattered through a new village.

We reckon that the 4 to 5 week inquiry could cost the parties about £1m each.

Gary Powers has a similar project at an advanced stage in the US and has offered his support. † †

If you can get the Daily Telegraph on the web there should be an article on Upper Heyford in the edition of 27 May 2002.

Hope you are well

- - - -

† † From Russell Kendall, Thu, 30 May 2002: "I forgot to mention that Gary Powers died on 1 Aug 77, while piloting a helo for TV-KNBC in Santa Barbarbara, CA. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetary. It could be that the article [above] is talking about his son."

Fri, 07 Jun 2002
"Duane, battle is about to commence to decide whether Upper Heyford is to become a country park, a new town or a world heritage site. One of the questions that will be asked is what level of interest there may be in the US in the airbase and would it be attractive for US tourists to visit so that it can be explained the part the USAF airbases in Europe (including UH) played in the defence of the free world and what attraction it may have for former servicemen.

Specifically, could you estimate how many ex-servicemen are currently resident in the US who will have served time at UH (and their families)?"

Wed, 12 Jun 2002
"Duane, I was very pleased to hear from you. It happens to be the day when the public inquiry started into the NOC (agents for the MoD) proposals to build 1000 houses (as a first phase). At the last gasp they have employed a competent and honest archaeologist who, together with English Heritage, the Government agency responsible for advising on heritage issues, have persuaded them that the operational part of the airbase has to be preserved. I believe that there is very little chance of any of the hardened aircraft shelters [HAS] or the runways being removed (the HAS could have been an expensive operation as the USAF built them not to be destroyed).

What is happening, in effect, is that from 1994 onwards me and my mate have been saying that we have the most important physical remains from the cold war (Greenham Common would have pushed UH close if it was not quickly sold for development/restoration) and 8 years later people are starting to agree with us. If you can find the Economist of 1 June 2002 p36 you will find some more of what was in the Telegraph (possibly reworked by the same writer. The outside world believe that it is impractical to preserve a whole airbase. Those inside the public inquiry are hearing from the lawyers and experts for the MoD's agents that this is exactly what they are now intending to do and that it would be inconceivable to do anything else.

Within the next few weeks or possibly months the NOC lawyers and experts will have taken the idea of preserving the airbase and developing a museum of international significance as if it was their own and me and my mate can get on with our lives as if it was never going to be destroyed and we needn't have spent year after year campaigning. I am not complaining it just takes some people longer to see the obvious and for others preservation of the airbase was inconvenient to their limited agendas. The leader in the Telegraph said that the cold war was fought so that we could "get back to normal" that includes a green and pleasant land without nasty reminders of global conflict. I don't know what normality you are experiencing in the US but this concept does not do the telegraph any credit as a serious newspaper. Similarly, the Economist says the 'in the real world' the airbase will not be preserved, just a few bits and pieces. The real world includes very many ripples from the cold war and we are about to lose touch with this our ability to remember and understand the causes of so much of today's normality.

The Inquiry

I really would like some information about the possible level of interest in the US; rough numbers of surviving servicemen, interest in the cold war for us to feed into the inquiry. This is important because the NOC are hoping to build the 1000 houses without having to make any contribution to the management of the instructional monument or to the development of a museum. If we can tell the Inspector/secretary of State that their are 250,000 surviving servicemen with some connection to UH or to the European theatre we can claim that the visitor attraction aspect justifies some funding from the housing.

The other issue that has cropped up is "landscaping". The developers want to claim credit for planting trees (they have only today withdrawn the proposal to plant trees in and amongst the Victor Alert shelters. Frank is meeting them on Monday and it would be very helpful to know what landscape management plan was being followed by the USAF. For example was the airfield kept free of trees due to bird strike and/or to keep the view to the perimeter fence clear? We are going to tell them that they should not be doing anything that the USAF did not do. We do not want a country park but a record of the cold war landscape.

The Web Site

So long as everything I have sent you is accredited to the Oxford Trust for Contemporary History there is nothing that you cannot use although the argument has moved on. Contact is

It would be nice to be able to cooperate so that we could provide information about the preservation and development of the cold war monument. However, as I said, OTCH are very likely to be overtaken and buried in the rush unless we can build up our credibility. We would very much like to set up some kind of liaison with a prestigious US college. There must be servicemen who have moved into academe, or you may know of a school with a particular interest in the cold war which would be keen to set up an Oxford campus. I have an idea that ex servicemen would not just holiday at UH but would be tour guides to tell the story to visitors from around the world, your website would be a great way to set up an organisation. As soon as you had a few on the list we could seek accommodation on the site and approach a tour organisation here. the beauty of this project is that it can start from the smallest beginnings and grow year by year.

The other thing that occurs to me is that any accreditation on your site that you can give to OTCH gives it a sense of reality. However, we are relying on the fact that as soon as the outside world realises that normality means that there will be a cold war airbase preserved in the Oxfordshire countryside we will be able to recruit sufficient people to form the Trust. I cannot see that we can rely on US residents but we will most definitely need advisers and consultants from the US, not just academics to develop our understanding of the cold war but also those familiar with the operation of the front line an air base (do you know any of the pilots who manned the aircraft on Victor Alert?) and managing and living in a small town on foreign soil.

I would be grateful for some information for the inquiry and to see what you think about these other ideas.

Mr. Frank Dixon is secretary to the Oxford Trust for Contemporary History mentioned above as the contact at Mr. Dixon has has spent the last eight years working to preserve the base. Thank you Mr. Dixon! From visits to historic properties and battle re-enactments to conservation grants, from archaeological digs to children's books, English Heritage offers exciting insights into the past and helps the past contribute to the lives of everyone now, and in the future.

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