RAF Scampton decision ‘a tragedy’, say developers
Developers who hoped to turn the former RAF Scampton site into a proposed new “world-class venture” say an opportunity has been lost, and their development will now move to a new site possibly outside Lincolnshire altogether.
Horizon Park Ltd was created three years ago with ambitious plans for the acquisition and regeneration of the RAF Scampton site.
But the company’s plans have suffered from two significant setbacks in the past few weeks. First, West Lindsey District Council confirmed its intention to buy the site from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and then re-sell it to its private-sector development partner Scampton Holdings Ltd.
Then news broke that the Government may intend to block this sale and pass control of the site from the MoD to the Home Office to use the former airbase to house people whose asylum claims are being processed.
The management team at Horizon Park says it has not given up hope of taking its plans forward and wants the public to be aware of its proposals.
“We put together a high-calibre management team of specialists covering a wide variety of appropriate sector expertise, many of whom have vast experience of regenerating former MoD estates and former airfields around the UK into hugely successful private sector commercial enterprises,” said Roy Haywood, chief executive of Horizon Park.
“For three years we have researched and developed our regeneration plans and engaged with over 250 individuals and organisations through the district and county to share our visions and aspirations and to gain input and feedback from potential stakeholders and interested organisations.
“The Horizon Park regeneration plan created for RAF Scampton is ambitious, exciting and multi-faceted, including opportunities for the creation of thousands of new jobs, careers and apprenticeships; attracting and enabling hundreds of new start-up and relocating businesses to West Lindsey; huge opportunities linked to further education and the enterprise economy to benefit potentially thousands of work experience placements; and hundreds of million pounds’ worth of inward investment into Lincolnshire over the next decade.”
Under the Horizon Park plan the 800-acre site would be divided into a variety of mixed use activity zones, including: industrial, R&D and commercial properties; a film and TV production and gaming software studio; a digital arena to host fully immersive events; a new and emerging concept of a large scale ‘experience park’ containing a variety of visitor economy attractions; an inland surf park facilitating surfers from beginners up to international level; an Earth Space Exhibition, education and visitor centre based on the effects of climate change and measures being undertaken to conserve the plane; and botanic gardens, gardening festivals and geodomes.
“The local community in and around Scampton, as well as other communities in West Lindsey and further afield, would benefit from a boost of a range in community facilities including care in the community and senior living accommodation, a residential care home, improvements to local infrastructure and local community facilities,” said Haywood.
“What we have described above would be transformational for the economic and social benefit of West Lindsey and Lincolnshire. However, West Lindsey District Council has chosen to contract with an alternative development partner – Scampton Holdings Ltd – a company whose executives appear to have little real experience of land or property development and that has been seeking commercial and development partners on its website.
“The Scampton Holdings plan retains flight operations, requiring some 650 acres of the 800 acre site for this purpose. This only leaves a comparatively small area of the site – about 150 acres – for alternative land and property development, whereas our proposal would utilise all 800 acres of the site for our ambitious and exciting plans.
“We have thoroughly investigated the opportunities to retain flight operations and to convert Scampton into a commercial aerodrome, and our research did not support retaining this facility at Scampton.
“Numerous regional airports are currently in financial difficulty and the latest to close was Doncaster Sheffield in 2022. Income from continued flight operations would be minimal and there are 13 alternative airfields in the near vicinity.
“CO2 emissions would, increase, and continual aircraft movements would be an unwelcome nuisance for local residents. Most of all, continued use of the airfield and runways for flight operations would considerably restrict regeneration of the remaining site and would be largely incompatible with other beneficial uses.”
Haywood added: “Considerable confusion has been caused by recent speculation that the Government is considering using RAF Scampton as a base to accommodate asylum seekers, which has not yet been confirmed or denied. If this goes ahead it could cause the cancellation of the proposed development plans.
“Our team is now focused on exploring alternative sites where our ambitious plans can be transferred, which is a tragedy for the residents of West Lindsey and the public and private sectors within the county of Lincolnshire.”