'Reasons for rejecting home plans are bonkers'

Witney Gazette: The former RAF control tower The former RAF control tower

A PLAN to convert a derelict RAF control tower into a home may be rejected because officials believe washing lines could damage the countryside.

Ken Dijksman, the planning consultant for the scheme, described the council planning officers’ reasons for recommending refusal as “bonkers”.

The application would see the former RAF Broadwell control tower in Kencot, near Carterton in West Oxfordshire, converted into a four-bedroom family home.

The tower coordinated some of the D-Day missions in June 1945 and Broadwell was one of the busiest airfields in Oxfordshire in the Second World War.

More than 400 sorties were flown in March 1944 alone. It closed on March 31, 1947.

Mr Dijksman said converting it into a home was the only viable way of saving the historic building, which he said was “teetering on the edge” of collapse.

West Oxfordshire District Council ’s planning officers said it was more important to protect the open countryside from the impact of “domestic paraphernalia” such as washing lines and bins.

Mr Dijksman said: “The control tower was part of our wartime success and part of our wartime heritage.

“It was central to one of the most important events in European history and we cannot save it because you could see a washing line. It is bonkers.”

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He said converting it into a holiday let, as suggested by planning officers, was not viable because it is on RAF Brize Norton ’s flypath and a large solar farm is to be built nearby.

The applicant withdrew a different scheme at the end of last year after planning officers said it was not sufficiently justified in an area of open countryside.

Since then, English Heritage – as well as the council’s conservation architect – has confirmed the building is of historic significance.

Planning officers said the plan would be allowed if it was proved the building’s survival could only be secured through a residential conversion.

But they said there were a number of anomalies in the data provided – including the applicant’s claim that converting the tower to a holiday let was significantly more expensive than a home.

Their report stated they recognised the structure could have value as a heritage asset, but the plan was unsupportable due to insufficient detail and concerns over the impact on the countryside.

The district council’s lowlands area planning sub committee will meet from 2pm today at its Woodgreen offices to discuss the scheme.

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