Photo reproduced with kind permission from Peter Masson
Surplus Ministry of Defence bases across the UK could provide an ideal launchpad for new housing – and reduce the burden on the country’s Green Belt.
That’s the view of Bruton Knowles’ surveyor Steve Pozerskis – who is also a keen amateur pilot.
Guildford based Steve said surplus military bases from all three services should be considered as prime locations for the new housing the country needs.
And he is not just talking about former wartime fighter and bomber stations.
“The UK military has endured severe cutbacks over the last decades. There are large swathes of MOD surplus land coming onto the market and the sites are often large enough to become self-contained garden towns in their own right.
“Often placed away from infrastructure in the middle of the countryside, they will need to be self-sufficient in terms of shops, schools, employment zones, roads and infrastructure.
“These sites frequently cover hundreds of acres, offering developers favourable economies of scale. Local planning authorities would also be in a position to impose carefully thought out road layouts and infrastructure to make the best of these sites if and when they become available.”
Steve Pozerskis gets a Bird’s Eye view of both historic and modern military bases and airfields as he flies light aircraft and gliders across Southern England.
“Flying over the UK one thing is immediately clear – how little of our island has actually been built on.”
And he added: “I fly so clearly I am not keen on transforming every old airfield and military base in the country into a building site. Development on airfields has become a major sticking point, dividing the community between those who wish to preserve sites at any cost and younger generations who need somewhere affordable to live.
“We operate on behalf of landowners, local authorities and developers – and always look at every case on its merits. We believe every council in the land should take the same approach in order to deliver the homes we need.”
Developers already have their eye on RAF Halton once it closes. One of the largest bases in the country, it is split in half by the B4009 Tring Road - which would require substantial improvement if meaningful development was ever allowed.
Also in the developers’ sights is RAF Northolt – which Ealing Borough Council believes could provide up to 20,000 homes.
Steve Pozerskis said: “Surplus RAF and other military bases are becoming battlegrounds as the Government increases pressure on local authorities to identify suitable sites for large numbers of new homes and it is understandable Ealing Council is looking closely at its local military base.
The issue is particularly divisive around the South East – where there is a large concentration of wartime airfields. Wisley, Fairoaks and Manston are all back on the map – with developers looking to build new homes.
Steve Pozerskis believes building on surplus military bases is far preferable to sending the bulldozers onto the UK’s green field sites.
“Given the Government’s clear intention to accelerate new home delivery it is obvious some sort of compromise is required between those wishing to defend our old airfields and those looking to build on them.
“We recognise that a more realistic approach is necessary in order to cope with the enormous increase in populations since these airfields were being built and used back in the 1930s and 40s.
“Miles of flat, Brownfield sites cannot solely be used by people walking their dogs while an entire generation are seeking a place to live.”