THE first steps in securing a historic planning approval for RAF Uxbridge were granted last night. (Monday)
Councillors thrashed out planning conditions for 1,340 homes, a primary school, shops, and a theatre, at a two hour meeting.
This was preceded by a three and a half hour meeting in December, leading planning chairman Councillor John Hensley to declare the monumental town centre extension as 'a record for the time spent considering a single application.'
The project, which is likely to take more than 10 years to complete, will change the face of Uxbridge extensively, and the whole borough.
Colin Darby, planning manager of VSM Estates, the land owners, and co-ordinators of Project MODel, tasked with bringing Ministry of Defence sites back into community use, and receiving much needed profit, said he was 'delighted' with the approval.
The councillors have given the go-ahead for a hybrid scheme, with several specific points still required to be revisited a various stages by councillors.
When the scheme was announced in 2006 Mr Darby admits 'the world was a different place' prior to the global recession, and estimated profits on the homes have not materialised. The original planning application was for 1,425 homes, rather than 1,340.
As a result VSM Estates have not been able to meet the London target for 50 per cent of the homes to be affordable housing, only being able to commit to 15 per cent. Hillingdon have nevertheless accepted the application, realising in this financial climate VSM have already been squeezed to their limit. A clause has been inserted into the agreement allowing for the percentage to be increased if the market picks up.
In 2006 it was conceived that the project could be completed by 2017, but it seems even then, parts of the work will only just be beginning.
The highest building will be one six storey housing block, but many houses will be just that, family houses with back gardens backing onto several acres of district park.
A considerable amount of work will have to go into renovating junctions near the site, especially St Andrews roundabout, Uxbridge. The subway underneath the roundabout will be opened up and enhanced to link the site to the current town centre.
One unique and controversial feature is sure to be a fob-controlled barrier limiting access to Vine Lane, after complaints by residents that the route could be used as a rat-run for drivers.
New residents, and emergency services will be the only people able to open the barrier.
Transport for London could yet throw a spanner in the works, having objected to the amount of car parking spaces, believing it to be too much, although Hillingdon's councillors believe plans to be perfectly reasonable, and any reduction would only push cars into existing surrounding roads.
They can make their feelings felt when the project is to be rubberstamped, and possibly held back, by the Greater London Authority later this month. Council Leader Ray Puddifoot is to write personally to Mayor of London Boris Johnson to ask him to waive regulations as RAF Uxbridge is a special case.
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RAF Uxbridge by numbers
44 hectares of land
77 bed care home
2099 car park spaces
20,000 square metres of retail and office space
90 bed hotel
1200 seat theatre
45 acres of open space
The historic features of the development
Hillingdon House will be renovated, with the ground floor to open as a restaurant.
The bunker will remain as a museum.
The cinema will also remain for community use.
One barrack block will be converted to housing.
The spitfire will remain.