An example of a standard British house Credit Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net). CC-BY-SA-4.0.

A useful and interesting example of why the British housing – and land use – market is in such a mess. Absolutely wherever anyone suggests building something there will be protesters insisting that it shouldn’t be. We have not just Nimbys – Not In My Back Yard – but also Bananas – Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone. Our example today being Andrewsfield Airfield. This is a few hundred acres of not very much somewhere in Essex. The exact location, it being Essex, does not of course concern us. Well, OK, if you insist, concrete does improve most of that county.

There is the vaguest hint that someone might start building houses upon that site. This is an outrage, of course it is:

Proposals to build thousands of new houses on an airfield that was home to American soldiers who contributed to D Day is an “insult”, campaigners say.

Andrewsfield in Essex was the first airfield constructed by the US Air Force in England during the Second World War and from 1942 – 1945 it was home to the 322d Bomb Group who attacked coastal defences on D Day.

However campaigners have warned that the airfield is under threat by the North Essex Garden Communities project, a proposal by the local council to build 10,000 new homes.

You can feel the outrage wafting across The Pond, can’t you? The sons and daughters of those doughty Army Air Force boys are appalled at the idea that an area which saw such sacrifice might be turned over to something as trivial as shelter for mere Britons. Well, maybe not, none of them have heard of the idea and fewer would care, Americans managing to be reasonably sensible about such matters. They have political problems with closing a military base in the first place, but reuse after such isn’t a general issue.

Dr Mike Frost, a local anesthetist leading the campaign to stop the development, said: “I think it’s very insulting. We wouldn’t walk down Normandy in France and expect to see a load of brand new houses built there, somewhere so significant, so I don’t see why it should happen here.

“It is an important monument to the airman who helped us in our darkest hour and it should be preserved for future generations.”

The airfield, which was the first of 14 US airfields built in England in the early 1940s, is now private land and has been put up for development by its owners.

Isn’t that interesting, the local pain doctor knows where houses should be built? But it’s worth having a quick look at this historic site that must be saved from the indignity of people living upon it:

Today the remains of the airfield are located on private property, being used as agricultural fields, with a small portion used by the Andrewsfield Flying Club

An impressive memorial to those Brave Boys.

Current use
With the end of military control, Andrews Field was virtually abandoned by 1948 and soon took on an air of neglect. In common with other disused airfields, some of the buildings were taken over as temporary housing, even as late as 1953. From there on, virtually all the buildings with the exception of the two T-2 hangars and most of the ground works (runways, etc.) were removed and the land reverted to agriculture.

In 1972, aircraft again returned to Andrews Field (renamed Andrewsfield Aerodrome) when a 915m grass strip along part of the line of the original main runway was constructed. As flying increased, a clubhouse and flying control were erected in 1975 for the Andrewsfield Flying Club. The airfield was licensed by the CAA in 1976.

The Rebel Air Museum was housed in a blister hangar near the clubhouse for some time, until it moved to new premises on Earls Colne airfield.

Other than the two T2 hangars, the firing-in butts and a few Nissen huts in the dispersed sites, little remains of the once-busy wartime airfield. Only a small amount of single track perimeter remains along the south side of the airfield, although the wartime runways are visible as disturbed earth in aerial photography. There are two memorials, one in the village is positioned in front of the former Sick Quarters Site and commemorates the 819th Aviation Engineer Battalion who built the airfield. The other memorial is along the lane from the A120 to Great Saling and is to the memory of the 322nd Bomb Group . A mural depicting a B-26 adorns an interior wall of the Andrewsfield Flying Club clubhouse. Also on display are a number of photographs showing the airfield under construction

This? This is what cannot be built upon?

They’re bananas, aren’t they? As well as being Bananas and Nimbys.

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Bloke on M4
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Bloke on M4

“We wouldn’t walk down Normandy in France and expect to see a load of brand new houses built there, somewhere so significant, so I don’t see why it should happen here.”

What? I came back from Normandy yesterday and there’s tons of brand new houses. Most of it’s new. Hell, the French were going to just dump Pegasus Bridge for scrap until some people talked them out of it. Most of the D-Day stuff that exists is things that are stuck out in the middle of nowhere or hard to blow up.

Bloke in Cyprus
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Bloke in Cyprus

To be fair, I wouldn’t want 10,000 new homes built anywhere near me either…

…and the flying club will realise that its days are numbered if it goes ahead too.

Pat
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Pat

There is a better reason for not building at that location. It’s miles from anywhere. Far better to build near a town with s existing shops, jobs and a station.

Spike
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These criteria work a tiny change to the headline: “We Must Never Build Anything Upon Anywhere where the amenities are not already in place.” Same result as at present.