Central Bedfordshire Pre-submission Local Plan (January 2018)

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Object

Central Bedfordshire Pre-submission Local Plan (January 2018)

7.9 Identified Locations for Future Growth

Representation ID: 11373

Received: 22/02/2018

Respondent: Airfields of Britain

Representation:

TEMPSFORD

HERITAGE - impact on historic area, concern over loss of nationally important airfield/history, should not be a 'non-designated heritage asset'
EMPLOYMENT - potential loss of tourism, opportunity to strengthen tourism offer due to strong foreign links and history
ENVIRONMENT - impact on environment and ecology, loss of open space, impact on enjoyment of countryside, loss of agricultural land
FLOODING - increased flood risk, concern over development on flood plain
BROWNFIELD LAND - concern over classification as brownfield
TRANSPORT - local road network not suitable
IDENTIFIED SITES - concern over larger area of land now identified

04

Full text:

Please note that, following the revised Central Bedfordshire Local Plans as described above, as founder and leader of the Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust (ABCT) - Britain's and the world's first national airfield charity - there remains a very strong objection to the above revised proposed planning scheme.

For whatever reason, it has proved exceptionally difficult to even discover and then gain ready access to this altered plan now covering a greater area of land, hence the late submission of this email. Therefore, it has been thought prudent to resend as seen below our original objection sent on 29 August 2017, which after consideration continues to be fully relevant and valid.

This new development essentially would not be of any help to Tempsford Airfield and the surrounding area whatsoever, indeed bring massive disadvantages to all concerned, and hence has to be most greatly opposed.

As founder and leader of the Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust (ABCT), Britain's and the world's first national airfield charity, please note the following points by way of objection to the above proposed planning scheme:

Tempsford Airfield is one of Britain's most historic and important airfields: it continues to perform an extremely valuable service in numerous respects and therefore the proposed housing scheme should very much be discouraged.

What is proposed would at least severely weaken - and undoubtedly massively disrupt - all activities in and around the airfield and general area, which would have far more adverse effects than may be initially realised.

This proposed new plan would as a result most certainly not be of any value to not just the immediate area but far beyond, as follows:

Business/Economy - Britain's active and disused airfields are of incalculable importance to all of us in our everyday lives. The financial sums alone are immense beyond all belief as ABCT can easily prove - but the way to achieve this is to ensure that our airfields are not needlessly destroyed or damaged. And how to achieve this with Tempsford is through utilising and exploiting its particularly strong foreign connections, due to the airfield's extremely famous wartime achievements. This idea of tourism will be mentioned later on in this assessment but, in general, places such as Tempsford Airfield could and already do easily achieve this and many other business/economic tasks through a mixture of what is described as the 'tactical outreach' of airfields i.e. helping wider society plus their proven enormously beneficial effects on a far greater national and international scale. By expanding and playing upon foreign connections this would bring bigger benefits in the form of extra jobs, facilities and services to surrounding businesses and the economy.

Social life - this is in many respects strongly connected to more financial thinking as mentioned above but we simply cannot adequately function in our daily lives without airfields such as Tempsford. Jobs, facilities, services, communications, food, water, fuel and power, defence/safety, health, time, recreation, the environment: the list is practically endless but easy to prove as our airfields are phenomenally versatile. All this would be lost forever if this priceless airfield and its equally invaluable remaining infrastructure and buildings were removed.

Environment - despite longstanding myths to the contrary, Britain's airfields have in fact greatly enhanced the environment e.g. through countering adverse events such as flooding. As a result the matter of proposed housebuilding would create not only huge problems but catastrophic permanent damage in disrupting all the various intricate environmental factors involved. It is already fairly well known in the case of Tempsford that this is easily a potential flood plain area, a fact ABCT has highlighted on our popular Facebook page. There is also, as any airfield expert and/or supporter will confirm, the highly contentious use of the term 'brownfield'. This is most important too as there continues to be utter confusion among those not aware of this subject as to whether Britain's airfields are brownfield or, as can be easily argued, actually greenfield.

Open spaces - one always unappreciated fact surrounding Britain's airfields is their sheer space in terms of land area. This would continue to be most useful to local residents and other associated users, all of whom would be terribly badly affected by the proposed housing plan.

The versatility, context and understanding of airfields - As has sadly already occurred at various other airfields across Britain, building more houses would in fact be a retrograde move due first of all to losing an element of all-round social versatility as Britain's airfields are so renowned in providing. Context of airfields is most important too, due the worrying attitudes displayed by many in society primarily revolving around the idea of history being all about beauty and shallowness, when what should only matter are achievement and winning. Our airfields are huge winners and achievers: Tempsford scores on both counts even more so than usual but, due to an equally provable obsession among many members of the general public that 'history' in an architectural sense equals attractiveness, this attitude tends to override all other factors. This in turn leads to the sheer understanding of everything to do with airfields - whether as regards e.g. their iconic status, what they represent and mean to so many people or how they work, all these factors and many more are just not being taken into consideration for whatever reason. Once an airfield, always an airfield: massively important and influential beyond all belief, and possessing the most tremendous all-round potential for everyone in society - provided the status quo is maintained and not losing them for short-term gain. May one add that all these facts have been obtained through having visited over 1,700 major airfields over several decades, and unfortunately encountering the misconceptions of many people about Britain's airfields, which is why a crucial aspect of ABCT is the education angle to properly inform people about our airfields.

Health and safety - it is a statistical and recognised fact how our airfields - whether active or disused - are supremely safe places, so the housing plans would obviously be of major concern to all in the area. Again ABCT does know that local residents are far from happy about what is being proposed in this instance.

Roads network and surrounding countryside - Both of these factors are simply not suitable for what is being planned; excellent agricultural land would be lost as well.

Need for housing - Whether such a need is required at all could be described as debatable due to population growth and how this could be stemmed. But surely the building of new houses anywhere in Britain should be effected within existing towns and cities by (a) employing unused/redundant land within them, of which there is far more than is realised, and (b) changing the uses of similarly unemployed business premises within these areas to become residential housing. This idea comes back to the concept of jobs, facilities and services and where they already readily exist. ABCT has previously on various occasions elsewhere in Britain illustrated how building houses en masse on airfields would fail in two major ways i.e. (1) this is assuming jobs are available in the first place, far from guaranteed with how the economy and daily life as a whole operate in these times and (2) new towns etc would drain away the sheer vitality of existing towns which still have so much to offer themselves.

Interest in airfield history - ABCT can prove this with almost ridiculous ease as our website is officially one of the world's most popular, with in-depth visits so far from over 180 foreign countries. Tempsford Airfield meanwhile is of tremendous historical interest through its extremely significant involvement in World War Two, while the barn at Gibraltar Farm is recognised as one of the most famous individual airfield buildings anywhere in Britain; possible relocation elsewhere of this building (if it was then ever rebuilt - a significant possibility in itself of this not happening, as has occurred with other airfield buildings elsewhere in Britain), as has been suggested, would be the most almighty tragedy. Our airfields in general are now being increasingly, albeit belatedly, recognised as this country's greatest ever physical assets. But to describe Tempsford as a 'non designated heritage asset' is quite frankly a grave insult, not only to the airfield but all who served there. This is without question a very big problem when it comes to Britain's airfields, the combined issues of general public perception and whether or not to historically list them. It is nothing other than an extreme injustice that castles and stately homes, which have been modified over the years, can normally receive full protection without any real opposition while our infinitely more important airfields usually have to struggle to receive even a basic form of acknowledged preservation, and so are both terribly and needlessly vulnerable to demolition/removal - this situation/mindset has to rapidly change for all our sakes.

Airfield/military tourism - following on from what was said earlier, the related issue of airfield tourism is surprisingly popular across Britain, attracting people from both Britain and around the world. The further fact how all ages and both sexes tend to visit counters yet another myth that only elderly male military veterans are interested. Therefore the general area could easily capitalise upon this idea. Concerned/interested local parties are also fully correct in envisioning the all-round benefits of promoting general military history through guided tours and other broadly similar plans as highlighted in the previous paragraph.

Overall recognition/appreciation of airfield and serving personnel - we cannot honour enough Tempsford, all our other airfields and everyone who served at them. This airfield has helped win a World War, saved lives, helped people and revolutionised everyday society for the betterment of all. Demolition of the airfield would be a scandalous move, sheer historical vandalism and an absolute insult to both the airfield and all the people who served here.

In summary, the proposed plans for further housing at Tempsford Airfield would not be of any benefit whatsoever for all of the reasons mentioned above and should be strongly opposed.

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