Government insists it will listen to councillors over RAF base housing fears

RAF Molesworth

RAF Molesworth - Credit: Archant

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has insisted that “no decisions have been made” over the future of RAF Molesworth after US forces move out.

It was announced earlier this year that the MoD had deemed the base surplus to requirements and earmarked it for ‘disposal’, with a new development of housing was thought the most likely outcome.

The news came after the US Air Force’s announcement that it would be moving its troops out of the base sometime between 2020 and 2023.

But both MPs and councillors in Huntingdonshire took a dim views of plans to put homes on the site, and a meeting between Huntingdonshire MPs Shailesh Vara and Jonthan Djanogly was arranged with the Ministry of Defence.

The leader of Huntingdonshire District Council, Councillor Jason Ablewhite, and Councillor Jim White, who represents Ellington ward, also attended.

Mark Lancaster, the defence minister, stressed to the Huntingdonshire contingent that no decisions had yet been taken as to the future of the site and he made clear that he would be “looking at a number of options to maximise the financial return” for the MoD.

Mr Lancaster gave an assurance that whatever decision is taken, he will ensure that the MoD works closely with councillors and community leaders.

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After the meeting, Cllr Ablewhite said: “It was an extremely productive meeting and both local ward councillor, Jim White, and I felt that the Ministry of Defence was listening to the concerns being expressed about the sustainability of RAF Molesworth being sold for housing.

“We had a clear steer from the minister that he will work with Huntingdonshire District Council to work on alternative uses for the site once the USAF vacate sometime over the next 5-7 years.”

Cllr White added: “While it is disappointing that the Ministry of Defence has no future requirement for the Molesworth site beyond the departure of the US Air Force in 2019, the Minister was advised that disposal of the air base to potential housing developers would create a significant local infrastructure burden.

“I was therefore encouraged that the minister agreed to consider alternative disposal options.”