§ Mrs. Chaplin
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for the future of RAF Greenham Common; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Archie Hamilton
Following the withdrawal of the United States forces from RAF Greenham Common last year, and after careful consideration of potential alternative defence uses, we have decided that we have no long-term requirement for the bulk of the site. With the exception of a few small enclaves, which we shall have to retain for the time being due to inspection obligations under the terms of the intermediate nuclear forces treaty, the site will be disposed of.
Discussions have started with the local authorities to establish a strategy for the sale of the site in accordance with the normal planning process. As part of this process we will seek to agree the nature of any development of the site although we envisage that existing open space will be preserved for public amenity.
In addition, we shall seek to return specific assets for the benefit of the local community as quickly as possible. In this connection, we anticipate selling the school complex 573W and Greenham Lodge, with its associated outbuildings, after consultations with the appropriate local authorities. Although we will retain the housing stock associated with the airfield, the surplus barrack block accommodation at Greenham Close is available for sale to meet local housing needs.
Some minor defence activities will occasionally take place at the site until it is sold and the security of the airfield will be maintained for the time being although we hope to introduce arrangements to allow public access as soon as possible.