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Proposal to close 100-year-old RAF Northolt base to build 20,000 homes to tackle London housing crisis

A proposal has been put forward to shut down a working RAF base to build thousands of homes, getwestlondon can reveal

A suggestion has been put forward to close the historic RAF Northolt station and build 20,000 homes on the site in an attempt to combat London's housing crisis.

The idea was submitted by Ealing Council for the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan's "City for All Londoners" document which outlines challenges and opportunities from across the capital.

Ealing suggested the working 100-year-old RAF station could be closed as it “serves no real strategic importance” and the land could instead be developed for housing.

The council has called for “radical thinking” and said the plans could help meet the housing challenges London faces.

But Hillingdon Council in the neighbouring borough has vowed to oppose the plans, saying 20,000 houses would put too much pressure on public services.

UPDATE: Fears over traffic, strain on health care and history of the base after 20,000 RAF Northolt homes proposal 

'Radical thinking is needed'

Plans have surfaced to close the historic base to make way for housing(Image: TMS)

An Ealing Council spokesman said: “London is facing a massive housing crisis and we believe that some radical thinking is needed.

“We submitted the possibility of developing sites in Ealing, and the neighbouring borough, to help meet this challenge as part of our recent response to the Mayor of London's consultation on his City for All Londoners document.

“The development of RAF Northolt is one idea currently up for discussion.”

The City for All Londoners consultation ran from October 24 to December 11 last year, and encouraged a wide range of groups to put forward their views to shape policy at City Hall.

Challenges looked at in the consultation included housing , transport , crime , culture, health and economic development, and the document sets out changes City Hall wants to make over the next four years.

Other groups suggesting development

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan(Image: Getty Images Europe)

Ealing Council is not the only body raising the suggestion of building on RAF Northolt.

The airfield, which is owned by the Ministry of Defence, was also highlighted in a report by the London Society – an organisation that encourages public interest in planning and transport in the capital.

The report, titled "Re/Shaping London: Unlocking Sustainable Growth in West London and Beyond" and published in October 2015, says Northolt could be the site of a new "Garden City" in London, including 40,000 new homes and 65,000 jobs.

Space for 40,000 homes?

It says: “[Northolt] is severely constrained in aviation terms, with problems which would hamper commercial operation.

“Northolt is nonetheless well-connected, being served by three underground stations with the A40 running alongside.

“A commission should be launched to explore military aviation capacity within the South East of England and whether there is a better-suited alternative.

“If other locations were acceptable, Northolt airport could be released to deliver an entirely new Garden City within London, with a potential capacity in excess of 40,000 new homes and 65,000 jobs.”

RAF Northolt opened in 1915(Image: TMS)

RAF Northolt covers a huge expanse of land in the London Borough of Hillingdon between Northolt, South Ruislip and Ickenham.

Opened in 1915, the station is now home to a number of different military units, the British Forces Post Office, a bomb disposal team and air ambulances.

The base is authorised by the government to allow 12,000 commercial flights each year and there are around another 5,000 military flights annually.

After the government's decision to back Heathrow Airport 's expansion in October last year, commercial airline Flybe called for an increase in the number of commercial flights allowed at Northolt while the third runway is built.

'Massive over-development'

At a full Hillingdon Council meeting in Uxbridge on Thursday (January 19), leader Councillor Ray Puddifoot as asked if the authority would oppose the proposal to build on RAF Northolt.

Cllr Puddifoot said: “Ealing Council, without any reference to us, put forward RAF Northolt as a site with the potential to deliver 20,000 homes.

“A development of this scale would be expected to accommodate between 45,000 and 60,000 residents.

“Taking the lower of these estimates would generate around 13,000 children requiring a school place and the need for between 30 and 40 new GPs.

“Whilst I do appreciate living in Hillingdon would look very attractive to those living in other London boroughs, that would not be the case if we got involved with massive over-developments of this kind.

“Those councillors who represent the Ruislip area and Hillingdon wards that will be massively affected can ensure their residents that we will robustly oppose this.”

Video courtesy of Hillingdon Council

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