Parishes fear being swamped by homes
Parish councils around RAF Mildenhall and RAF Barnham fear their communities will be overwhelmed by the volume of housing the Government proposes following its land sale announcement.
If 4,000 homes were built on RAF Mildenhall, as the MoD suggested this week, it would almost double the number of homes in Mildenhall Parish.
Parish council chairman Brian Sulman said it was difficult to decide whether the announcement was good or bad until they had more detail and felt that the impact would depend on how the district council handled it.
But he added: “There are implications, whatever they do. There’s got to be work for people on the base or they’ve got to go to Cambridge or wherever, then we need the road to get people there.
“It’s no good just being a dormitory for Cambridge.”
On the other side of the base, Beck Row Parish Council chairman Gary Peachey said there were already difficulties getting on the A11 in rush hour.
He added: “They’re talking about being on the borders of Cambridge, but you still need the jobs locally. The air base is the largest employer.”
He was also concerned about the impact on already struggling schools and doctors’ surgeries as well as on the communities themselves.
“In Beck Row we already have approval for 384 homes and my concern with the additional houses is, however many they put there, it’s a significant number,” he said. “The villages will lose their identity if it merges Beck Row, West Row and Mildenhall.”
He hoped existing facilities on the base, which include a cinema, restaurants and social clubs, could be brought into community use.
Though RAF Barnham is much smaller than RAF Mildenhall, Ed Wyer, chairman of Barnham Parish Council, fears that the impact of housing there would be as great on his village as on Mildenhall.
“It could increase the size of the village by 50 per cent,” he said. “We’re an extremely small village – we have about 400 residents.
“It’s all very well them trying to get money for defence budgets by selling property, but the effects on communities are quite widespread.”
He also questioned whether the already busy A134 Bury St Edmunds to Thetford road could cope.
Parts of the original RAF Barnham have already been sold off, becoming the Gorse Industrial Estate, while the camp is next to a site of special scientific interest, which would restrict development in the area.
See our story MoD announces sale of RAF Mildenhall and RAF Barnham