RAF Alconbury and Molesworth are to be sold off for housing, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) has announced.

The Huntingdonshire bases are among 12 MOD-owned properties which are to be “released” as part of what Government Defence Minister, Mark Lancaster, described as a “drive for greater efficiency”.

The Government hopes that the sale of the 12 properties, which also includes RAF Mildenhall, in Suffolk, will generate £500 million and provide the land for around 15,000 new homes.

The income generated from the sales will be put back into the MOD's defence budget. The department stressed however, that no timescale has yet been announced for the sell off of the land, with discussions ongoing with the US Air Force regarding its plans to vacate the bases.

The Huntingdonshire bases will form the first tranche of the MOD's plan to reduce the size of its estate by 30 per cent, with its current holdings stretching to 452,000 hectares.

Huntingdon MP, Jonathan Djanogly said: “The original decision of the United States Air Force to pull out of Alconbury did come as something of a shock when it was announced approximately a year ago.

“However, with the decision now having been made it makes good sense to use this land which is not only brownfield but already consists of an element of housing for the purposes of securing homes for local people.

“We do have very large local housing targets and it is best that this is accommodated on brownfield sites such as this.”

Defence Minister Mark Lancaster said: “By streamlining the defence estate, we will ensure that it better meets the needs of the armed forces well into the future. Defence has the strongest incentive to become more efficient; with every pound we make by disposing of excess land reinvested into a defence budget that keeps Britain safe.”

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said that a working group had been set up to “bring together all key stakeholders engaged in the drawdown of the affected bases”.

She said: “The Ministry of Defence will promote effective communications and active participation of the departmentally recognised Trades Unions, HR staff and station executives to ensure the timely and effective development and management of plans for withdrawal and disposal.”