Housing plans for Yatesbury airfield

This Is Wiltshire: Wartime hangers and other buildings on the former RAF airfield at Yatesbury are part of housing plans developed by Jamal Khanfer’s company Wartime hangers and other buildings on the former RAF airfield at Yatesbury are part of housing plans developed by Jamal Khanfer’s company

Developer Jamal Khanfer has re-submitted plans for 46 homes on the former RAF airfield at Yatesbury that was home to pilots in both world wars.

The Moroccan businessman plans to build a mixture of two-bedroom flats to four-bedroom houses on the derelict site.

He first applied to develop the site in 2004 and gained permission through a public inquiry, but in 2008 his bank pulled funds for the project due to the financial crisis.

The re-submitted plans would see historic buildings, including former workshops, office quarters, a classroom and a lecture hall, converted into family homes.

Five new houses would also be built to the far north and east of the site.

The Yatesbury site began as a Royal Flying Corps airfield in the First World War and was used as a civilian flying school from 1935 to 1936.

It was taken over by the RAF as a training base during the Second World War and remained with the RAF until 1965, when the buildings were abandoned.

Agent Mike Milton, from Milton Architects in Marlborough, said Mr Khanfer bought the site to use for flying before realising the history behind it and becoming fascinated by it.

He said: “I think he felt originally that he was going to have private ownership, but he felt that it was a much bigger project than he could take on.

“He thought that developing, restoring and conserving the buildings would be a good way of securing the future of the site.”

The site has three aircraft hangars and one was re-built before the project stopped in 2008. The other two are beyond repair and will be demolished.

CPRE campaigner Anne Henshaw said she was disappointed to hear about the demolition and called for a public consultation.

She said: “Years later a new altered plan has come in which is not offering as much to the area as the original one and it has also diminished the integrity of the site.”

Mr Khanfer said: “My dedication to preserving Yatesbury couldn’t be more evident from the time, effort and costs committed since I purchased the site in September 1998.

"Our planning application has been very carefully designed with great care and sympathy for the history of the site.

“The project will inject life back into the village and ensure its long-term survival, youngsters in the village who would like to remain in the area will have an opportunity to do so.

"The development will probably double the population of Yatesbury village and thus bring social life to the residents with potentially some services which otherwise will not be available.”

And Mr Milton said: “We feel that largely the villagers of Yatesbury are positive to the proposals. We had a meeting with the parish council last summer and they seemed receptive.”

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