Heritage site plans falter

Plans to redevelop an airbase in Oxfordshire look set for rejection because Cherwell District Council wants to preserve its historic buildings for heritage purposes.

The North Oxfordshire Consortium (NOC), comprising Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon, wants the site's Cold War buildings to continue to house businesses providing vital employment for the community.

The NOC claimed that the businesses maintain the buildings in accordance with recommendations made by English Heritage and that if left vacant they will be open to vandalism.

The scheme involves the redevelopment of Heyford Park near Bicester and construction of 1,075 homes, 30 per cent of which will be affordable housing. It also contains a heritage centre.

NOC chief executive Keith Watson said: "We believe that what we are putting forward will maintain the site's heritage and ecology. Monumentalising the buildings will be a recipe for disaster."

The council has allowed 800 people to live on a short-term basis in former RAF accommodation. The NOC argued that all residents are in favour of the plans.

Senior planning officer Jenny Barker said the historic buildings have been let on a temporary basis by the consortium. The council has a planning brief for the site that allows for 1,000 homes.

She added that the council's priority is to preserve the historic buildings and improve the site's environment. It is expected to deliver its decision early in the new year.

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