HISTORIC Bentley Priory is to become an exclusive estate with a museum dedicated to its former function as home of the Fighter Command.
Harrow Council gave approval to the residential redevelopment of the 23-hectare ex-RAF site in the Green Belt in Stanmore yesterday (Wednesday) evening.
The rooms in the 17th Century Grade II* mansion house from where Lord Dowding co-ordinated the Battle of Britain in 1940 during the Second World War will converted into a museum while the remaining space becoming eight apartments.
A second building is to be turned into three homes, with 92 houses and flats built in clusters on the rest of the site.
Developers VSM Estates will build an Italian walled garden, spruce up the estate's vast open spaces and add a 59-space car and coach park to serve the museum, which will be run by the Bentley Priory Battle of Britain Trust set up especially for this purpose by the Battle of Britain Fighters Association.
The council granted permission for the scheme on the proviso that the Environment Agency resolves its dispute with the developer over what anti-flood measures are needed and that the Mayor of London Boris Johnson (Conservative) does not object.
Councillor Marilyn Ashton (Conservative), portfolio holder for planning, said: "I am delighted with this news. The primary importance here is the protection of the Grade II Listed Building and the preservation of the heritage and history of the Battle of Britain museum which forms part of the approval, ensuring that future generations will learn about the sacrifices that were made at that time."
Guy Gusterson, land director at VSM Estates and St Modwen Properties, said: "VSM Estates is delighted that Harrow Council has approved our plans for the redevelopment of Bentley Priory.
"The decision follows many months of hard work with all of our partners associated with this historically-important site and extensive consultation with the local community to produce this scheme.
"This will be a superb development that secures not only the history of Bentley Priory and the Mansion House but also delivers a viable solution for its future."
VSM ESTATES' COMMUNITY CONTRIBUTIONS
* £200,000 museum start-up costs and business case
* Up to £6.2m to convert house to museum
* £3m to set up trust to help fund museum perpetually
* 10-year-old woodland management plan
* £100,000 towards borough ecology centre
* £100,000 to improving Common Road
* Travel plan
* £100,000 towards education and health
* Plan for locally-recruited construction workforce
* Arranging 20 affordable homes off-site
* Money for maintenance of Bentley Priory Site of Special Scientific Interest
BENTLEY PRIORY MUSEUM
* Entrance Hall: Designed by Sir John Soane and will featuring shop
* Abercorn Room: Guides meet visitors and introductory materials
* Air Marshall Dowding's Room: Audio-visual exhibits and Dowding's office preserved behind glass
* Adelaide Room: Displays about the house during wartime
* Ante Room: Five special tables on air defence and projection exhibit
* Ladies Room: Museum exhibits based on imaginary talks with key characters
* Rotunda: Art gallery with portraits and searchable audio database of veteran pilots