Historic airfield no longer “at risk”

by | Jan 20, 2016 | News

The Second World War and Cold War former airfield, RAF Coltishall, has been rescued and removed from Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register 2015 published today (Tuesday, 20 October 2015). The Register is Historic England’s annual survey of the health of the historic environment.

This time last year the airfield was described as being in “very bad” condition and “deteriorating” or “deteriorating significantly”.  But now the site has been restored to good enough condition to enable it to reach the requirements to be removed from the list.

When the County Council purchased the site from the Ministry of Justice for £4m in 2013, it had been decaying for more than six years as it was unused.  The Second World War, Cold War and later landscape was overgrown and neglected and many of the buildings had leaking roofs, broken windows and were in urgent need of repairs.  Working with local communities, North Norfolk and Broadland Councils, the Spirit of Coltishall Association and Historic England, the County Council quickly started to reverse the site’s decline, and visitors and people working for businesses at the newly named Scottow Enterprise Park today see a huge improvement.

In addition to day-to-day grounds and building maintenance of the 600-acre site, recent heritage projects have included detailed surveys and conservation repairs on a nationally-important Second World War fighter pen and its shed and refurbishment of part of the iconic control tower so it can be opened up for visitors.

The good news was welcomed by County Councillor for Hoveton and Stalham Nigel Dixon who said: “I am pleased that our work on the Conservation Area and heritage at former RAF Coltishall has been recognised by the two district councils and Historic England, and that Scottow Enterprise Park has now become an attractive place for businesses and the local community. When we think back to what the site looked like when we bought it two and a half years ago, it is clear to anyone who goes there today that it’s being transformed.  There is obviously still a lot of work to be done, but we are heading in the right direction and that’s been taken into account in this latest report.”

Archaeological sites are on the list of Conservation Areas and Scheduled Monuments at Risk when they are recognised as being amongst the most significant archaeological remains in England.  They range from burial mounds and hillforts to 20th century industrial and military sites, providing immense historical depth to the places and landscapes.

Leader of Norfolk County Council, George Nobbs, said: “The site is really starting to come back to life which is why we bought it in the first place – to give this much-loved RAF base a new lease of life.  I visited it only a few days ago and was impressed with the level of activity there.  Coming off the “at risk” register not only means we’ve made significant progress and that Historic England thinks that it’s in good hands, but that it will also hopefully act as a stimulus for people to visit and operate at the site.  We now have 14 companies operating at Scottow Enterprise Park employing 64 people (full time equivalents) and we hope this number will steadily grow continuing to boost the local economy.”

Chair of Norfolk County Council’s Economic Development Sub Committee Colleen Walker, said: “A lot of hard work has gone into reversing the decline at Scottow Enterprise Park and I am delighted it has been recognised in this way. We continue to have strong interest from various business sectors interested in the site and there are some potentially exciting opportunities in the pipeline.”

Cllr John Timewell, Chairman of the Scottow Enterprise Park Member Working Group, said: “It is necessary to recognise the importance of the site’s heritage and allow members of the public to have access to view the rich history at the former airbase.  We know from the response we’ve had when holding heritage tours and open days that there is a real affection for the site.  We are also in the process of looking at setting up a Trust for the good management of the heritage side of things at SEP.”

Please see below ‘before’ and ‘after’ photographs of the Second World War fighter pen and shed.

Local member contact details
Nigel Dixon, 01603 783885

Political comment
Cllr George Nobbs, Leader of the Labour Group and Leader of the Council, on 01603 222936
Cllr Cliff Jordan, Leader of the Conservative Group, on 01362 820422
Cllr Toby Coke, Leader of the UKIP Group, on 07717 881289
Cllr Marie Strong, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, on 07920 286597
Cllr Richard Bearman, Leader of the Green Party Group, on 01603 504124

Cllr Colleen Walker (Labour) Chairman of the Economic Development Sub-Committee on 01493 782272
Cllr Jonathon Childs (UKIP) Vice Chairman of the Economic Development Sub-Committee on 01493 731877
Cllr Bev Spratt (Conservative) on 07887 633253
Cllr John Timewell (Liberal Democrat) on 07717 881857
Cllr Andrew Boswell (Green) on 07787 127881