RAF Halton Development DIO Consultation
- comment from the Halton Development Community Interest Company
published July edition Wendover news 2019
The recent consultation held by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (the DIO), invited local
communities to comment on the latest plans for Halton. We urge anyone who has not seen the
plans or made a comment to do so. The plans can be seen at
We understand that the DIO has a job to do, a job that it carries out across many sites
across the country on behalf of the MOD. The DIO is tasked with disposing of the site whilst being
able to demonstrate that the community has been consulted, which it does through consultation
events, providing top level, early plans so that planning permission is granted by AVDC. They will,
understandably, deliver ‘safe’ plans that meet housing targets and some community requirements
such as green spaces and community facilities. Such plans are rarely bold or inspirational. Equally,
we must recognise that the final development usually does not match the original plans - best laid
plans invariably change, for many reasons.
Our aims at the HDCIC remain constant. To be an influencing and active partner to the DIO and
AVDC, but with an agenda to deliver best in class place-making for the community, to
create an inspiring and aspirational place for all.
We believe that by inspiring the community and listening to everyone’s views and sharing this vision,
we can actually create a better space, with better facilities, that appeals to more, diverse groups of
people - improving the potential returns the DIO and the Exchequer require from the site.
Opportunities pre closure
As the full closure has now been delayed until 2025, our focus is on projects that could be started
much sooner. Many facilities are under utilised or not used at all. Allowing the site to deteriorate is
in no one’s interests. For the HDCIC, doing nothing for 6 years is not an option when there are real
opportunities that can be started far sooner:
A hub to connect us through rest and play
The RAF Nuffield Pavilion is a tremendous asset that could be better used by both the RAF and local
groups, IF it was made accessible to all, offered meeting and event rooms, and was able to offer
catering facilities. Groups that could benefit from this, alongside the RAF, are:
• Local sports clubs, such as football and hockey who use the grass and all-weather pitches for
training and matches
• Countryside and rambling groups accessing the Wendover Arm canal, the paths to the local
parishes and Wendover Woods
• Community led events
This also provides a village green and facilities for Halton village, helping with its sense of place. Such
an approach is working well at Aston Clinton, where the ‘Your café in the park’ is run for and
supported by the wider community and the football club.
Promoting environmentally friendly connections
Cycling is one of the fastest growing and most popular participation sports/activity. It suits all ages,
genders and abilities. The Parishes of Wendover, Halton, Weston Turville and Aston Clinton all have localised cycling
facilities: Wendover Woods, Aston Hill and the Canal being the most obvious. Yet cycling within and
between the parishes or the localised routes requires road usage. Whilst cycling is growing in
popularity, the greatest barrier to increased growth is concern over safety on the roads.
Our proposal is to build a local cycling network that links the communities, other sports and
recreational facilities, and links to transport hubs such as Wendover Station, encouraging students,
commuters, local workers, visitors, families and enthusiasts to travel by bike. Leaving the car at
home will ease local congestion and parking challenges and, of course, the health benefits are well known.
Introducing cycleways like those you see throughout Europe would be a huge step forward -
dedicated cycle-paths running parallel to waterways (working with the Canal River Trust and
Wendover Arm Trust ideally) and paths, or shared paths wide enough for walkers/pedestrians and
cyclists to enjoy. The existing towpath already offers this opportunity, but it’s unmade and too narrow in sections.
This will build on an infrastructure that is already in place in parts, but making it excellent will bring
recreation, tourism and connectivity to the communities. It could also link to the Aylesbury Garden
Such a scheme could be designed holistically and then delivered gradually, bringing both short and
long term, sustainable benefits to our community.
Project Sport for All
Connecting all ages, abilities and genders in health
The proposal is to develop these facilities for the benefit of the local community, for participation
sport, for local teams and organisations.
Development of any section of this sport real estate has tremendous benefits. These are vital green
spaces promoting numerous health and mental well-being advantages, and are currently actively
used by local sports and social societies across Halton, Weston Turville, Wendover, Aston Clinton
A first stage is to lay out additional football pitches for youth football (especially promoting girls’
football), install a second floodlight astro pitch for hockey (while also serving multi-sports including
football) and develop the Nuffield Pavilion facility.
Stage 2 and beyond
Subsequent stages are to provide facilities for indoor and outdoor cricket, with a design integrating
the currently laid cricket pitch and adding new ones.
To support visiting teams, we would repurpose the Sergeant’s Mess (note the DIO plan to build
housing here, however) or other facility/space as no frills hotel accommodation.
All these plans embrace disability sports with exciting prospects for tie-ins with Stoke Mandeville.
This proposal builds on Halton’s current uniqueness as a hub of sporting and physical well-being
activity for the entire community and, potentially, for the RAF.
Creating employment through enterprise and creativity
The ambition of the HDCIC is to bring the workshops back into productive use. We recognise that,
under the current DIO plans, the workshops will be demolished for housing. We believe, however,
there is still an opportunity to utilise them in the meantime, and this opportunity could include the
There is opportunity for food production and markets; manufacturing and production engineering
around the automotive and aeronautical industries; building film sets and post-production, or
general enterprise space for the creative industries. We see this as the incubator for the widest
range of small-scale activities by giving these nascent industries incentives to start up and grow in
There is considerable initial interest, including from skills partners and the film sector to achieve this
Demonstrating how we can create new forms of housing to meet tomorrow’s needs
The HDCIC still retains a firm interest in developing their community-based housing offer and will be
applying to Homes England’s Community Fund for support in testing its feasibility and working with
the Vale of Aylesbury Housing Trust to make it affordable. We recognise this could take time to
negotiate with the DIO, given the delayed closure of the base, but we will continue to pursue our
ambitions to show how we can build a great community with relevant housing to meet the needs of
local people and new arrivals.
All of these proposals support our overall vision to promote:
1. Learning and Well-being
2. Creative arts and culture
3. Industry and Enterprise
4. Heritage and Countryside
These proposals will be put forward to the DIO, RAF and AVDC by us. We believe they are positive
and realistic, keeping the site alive and helping point the way towards the Halton of the future.
To support the HDCIC, please sign up or get in touch if you are particularly interested in, or have
experience of, any of the 'early use' proposals mentioned