Web Site Navigation:
(More to Come)
Wings Over Heyford
(Work In Progress)
We will never forget
ROYAL AIR FORCE STATION
Memorial Web Site
"Gone But Not Forgotten"
The Future of the Air Base
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 email@example.com. 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.
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep up the good work
Submitted courtesy of Daniel Scharf, Monday, December 27, 2004.
From Ken Anderson, Sunday, 10 Nov 2002 (posted with his
"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
Great site! Thanks for the memories.
There has been considerable debate and discussion about what will
become of the base, so I recommend that you visit the Daily Telegraph
www.telegraph.co.uk 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
Monday, May 27, 2002 9:59 AM
Homes not aerodromes
Monday, May 27, 2002
Ghosts of an era of global tension
By Philip Johnston
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
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
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
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
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
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.