March 16, 2023 9.00 am This story is over 15 months old

Developers behind RAF Scampton plans ask Home Office for ‘common sense’

“Would the region prefer a refugee centre or £300 million of levelling up?”

By Local Democracy Reporter

Plans to house 1,500 asylum seekers at RAF Scampton have been described as “barking mad” by developers hoping to spark a £300 million heritage regeneration of the historic site.

Scampton Holdings is the development partner for West Lindsey District Council’s proposed purchase and redevelopment of the retired airbase.

However the landmark deal appears to be in jeopardy after the Home Office announced plans to house up to 1500 asylum seekers waiting to be processed.

“On the surface it just sounds barking mad”, said Peter Hewitt of Scampton Holdings. “We worked closely with the council for years to put together a plan that works for the region and local area.

“The Home Office seem to want around 40 acres, which is 5% of the site, but the issue is that this is in the space section we are looking at, taking out a significant part of our education area too.”

How the site could be laid out according to the latest plans.

The Scampon Holdings plan would preserve and enhance the site by providing education and employment opportunities in aviation heritage, aerospace and aviation technology.

The proposal would see potentially thousands of jobs created, with educational campuses, heritage sites to remember the past of RAF Scampton, work/live accommodation, and even hopes of an operational runway.

Community backlash has spiralled since the Home Office’s plans were announced, with local MPs, councillors and residents all saying they do not want this to go ahead.

Tensions rose when it was discovered that West Lindsey District Council had not been informed of the plans, despite the obvious significance of housing more asylum seekers than there are residents in Scampton village.

Plans for the site have been released by West Lindsey District Council.

Mr Hewitt said that the Home Office had not been in touch with Scampton Holdings about these plans, and he has called for the government to show “common sense”.

“There are plenty of contradictions within this. Would the region prefer a refugee centre to £300 million of regeneration and levelling up?” He said.

“We simply cannot operate with 1,500 additional people in the vicinity. The result of this is binary as there is not room for both our plans and the Home Office’s.

“We’re hoping they can provide clarity so that business can get on with what business does best, but this will not put us off our plans. Progress cannot be made until the Home Office make their decision.”

One of the exits at RAF Scampton, near Lincoln | Photo: Ian S

Peter Hewitt and Scampton Holdings remain fully committed to the project despite this recent roadblock emerging.

He has a grand vision of eventually bringing the Red Arrows back to Scampton, but says that plans will be scuppered should the Home Office proceed.

“Far be it from me to explain the workings of politics, but the whole situation leaves me puzzled,” Peter said.

“Getting the country running again is about investing in areas that have been left behind.

“I just hope this doesn’t push our project back five to ten years because half the battle with our proposal is ensuring the runway remains operational.

“I’m sorry that this hasn’t been given the clarity it should have, but rest assured that we are all on the same side. I am hoping that once the dust settles on the budget, the government will use their common sense.

“The government wanted levelling up, and that’s what we are trying to do. I ask that we are given a hand, not a stick.”

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