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Airfield could be hosting almost 5,000 homes


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Wethersfield airfield: set to become a new town? (pic Google Earth)

North Essex, already facing the threat of three proposed “garden communities”, has a new mass development to consider: almost 5,000 new homes on the former airfield at RAF Wethersfield.
While the proposals for the garden communities – at West Hay (24,000 homes), West of Braintree (13,000) and East of Colchester (9,000) – are struggling to convince everyone in the planning world (see here), the Wethersfield plan involves a partnership between two government agencies.
Homes England is working with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation to develop 10,000 houses at seven sites belonging to the Ministry of Defence across the country.
Of those, it is estimated that 4,850 can be built at Wethersfield, some six miles north-west of Braintree. If the plans proceed, the MoD will retain ownership of the airfield while Homes England takes responsibility for the preparation and planning process. The DIO (an arm of the MoD) will supervise the “investment with governance” aspect; it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Homes England that it says will “speed up the process”.
Talking about the national project, Graham Dalton, DIO chief executive of DIO, said: “We are pleased to be entering into this partnership with Homes England for the benefit of local communities.
“The combined expertise will ensure sites no longer needed for defence can be developed into much-needed housing while delivering value for money.”
Nick Walkley, Homes England chief executive, concurred: “This partnership provides another great opportunity to intervene in the market – and the sites will contribute towards the 300,000 homes needed each year to meet the growing demand.
“We are pleased to be using our skills and resource to work closely with DIO on the delivery of these brownfield sites.”