Housing plan for former Cold War intelligence unit in Wyton

The plans were announced by Huntingdonshire District Council.

The plans were announced by Huntingdonshire District Council. - Credit: Archant

A military photographic centre which once played a key part in secret intelligence gathering operations during the Cold War could be turned into houses and flats.

Fifteen residential units may be built at RAF Wyton's former photographic section, which stands on a separate site across Sawtry Way from the main RAF station, if it gains planning permission from Huntingdonshire District Council.

The George Pension Trust/MW Trustee Ltd and Michael George have applied to convert the building - believed to date back to the early 1950s and now derelict - into five two two-storey homes and 10 flats.

In its heyday, the unit was responsible for processing images captured by aircraft from RAF Wyton for the secretive Joint Air Reconnaissance and Intelligence Centre (JARIC) at nearby RAF Brampton. However, by the 1990s much of its work had been replaced by satellites and the building became redundant.

The site, covering about nine acres, already has permission for business use - and at one stage there was a bid to turn the site into a home for one of the tigers used in the advertisements for Esso petrol.

Planners acting for the developer said in a document submitted with the planning application: "In light of the positive pre-application advice that the proposed development received from the council, it is considered that the application will be subsequently viewed in favourable terms."

It said the need for communal spaces, access and the "unusable" nature of parts of the building restricted the site from providing a higher number of homes. Its limited scale also meant that the inclusion of affordable housing would have an impact on the viability of the scheme, so it was proposed that community benefits could be provided off-site instead.

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The application said: "Residential conversion would lead to an enhancement of the site and its setting through a general cleaning up of a derelict building and the site and the change from a flat to a pitched roof on the building.

"The factory unit is not a designated heritage asset and its historic use, largely processing film for military purposes, is not of significant interest."

The document said: "Therefore, an appropriate re-use of the building should be considered favourably and as an enhancement from its current state."