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What effect does development have on the heritage value of former RAF bases in E

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What effect does development have on the heritage value of former RAF bases in England with special focus on RAF Perton?

 

 

 

Adam Freeman

 

 

 

What effect does development have on the heritage value of former RAF bases in England with special focus on RAF Perton?

 

 

Published by Adam Freeman at Shakespir

 

16,000 words

 

Copyright 2016 Adam Freeman

 

Shakespir Edition

 

About the author:

Growing up in Staffordshire Adam Freeman studies History all through his school years and after graduating with four A-Levels attended the University of Winchester, completing a degree in Ancient, Classical and Medieval Studies in 2014, this joint degree was in History and Archaeology. The Dissertation on the politics and decisions behind the construction of churches in Mercia in the mid to late eight century during the reign of King Offa, was the first e-book to be published on Shakespir. In 2016 the author completed a Masters Degree at the University of Birmingham (Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage) in International Heritage Management.

To contact the author go to – [email protected]

Contents:

 

Acronyms Page 4

 

List of Images Pages 5-9

 

Aims Page 9-10

 

Introduction Pages 10 -15

 

Literature Review Pages 16 – 25

 

Methodology Pages 26 – 37

 

Data analysis section Pages 37 – 61

 

Discussion Pages 61-66

 

Conclusion Pages 67-74

Bibliography

Published Sources Pages 75-79

Web based Sources Pages 80-82

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acronyms:

 

The following acronyms will be used in this paper:

 

DCMS – Department for Culture, Media and Sport

 

DCLG – Department for Communities and Local Government

 

NPPF – National Planning Policy Framework

 

HBF – House Building Federation

 

HER – Historic Environment Record

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

List of images:

 

Image 1 – View from Smith’s Rough Wood towards Cranmoor Lodge. Image courtesy of author

Image 2 – Table of RAF Perton’s development since 1945. Image courtesy of author

Image 3 – Image of Settlement Hierarchy in South Staffordshire. Image courtesy of www.sstaffs.gov.uk/

Image 4 – Image of Queen Wilhelm of the Netherlands inspecting the Princess Irene Brigade of the Dutch Army. Image courtesy of Brew, A (2009) 100 Years of Wolverhampton’s Airports

Image 5 – Dutch troops working at RAF Perton. Image courtesy of www.wolverhamptonhistory.org.uk

Image 6 – The RAF Perton maintenance team. Image courtesy of www.wolverhamptonhistory.org.uk

Image 7 – Prince Bernard visiting the Dutch camp at Wrottesley 1940-44. Image courtesy of search.staffspasttrack.org.uk/

Image 8 – Table of previous documents and reports by English Heritage/Historic England. Image courtesy of author

Image 9 – Table of Airfield closures since 1945. Image courtesy of 286, Blake R (2009) Airfield Closures and Air Defence Reorientation in Britain during the Cold War and Its Immediate Aftermath

Image 10 – Table of primary sources used by author. Image courtesy of author

Image 11 – Logo of Airfield Research Group Image courtesy of airfieldresearchgroup.org.uk

Image 12 – Image of Perton in its Historic Environment. Image courtesy of www.sstaffs.gov.uk. 2011

Image 13 – Table of interviews taken by author. Image courtesy of author

Image 14 – Image of the location of the officer’s block. Image courtesy of http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/384570

Image 15 – Image of construction at Cranmoor Lodger Farm in 2009. Image Courtesy of [+ https://geolocation.ws/v/W/File%3ABuilding%20works%20at%20Cranmoor%20Lodge%20Farm%20-%20geograph.org.uk%20-%201421185.jpg/-/en+]

Image 16 – On completion of the homes image took in 2011. Image courtesy of [+ http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-24441492.html+]

Image 17 – Image from spring 2015 of the completed homes. Image courtesy of author

Image 18 – Table of interviews taken by author. Image courtesy of author

Image 19 – Table of Perton’s heritage value. Image courtesy of HEA Perton and Penkridge. 2011: 22

Image 20- Table of Cranmoor Lodge Farm’s heritage value. Image courtesy of HEA Perton and Penkridge – 2011: 27/28

Image 21 – Map of Cranmoor Lodge Farm’s heritage value. Image courtesy of HEA Perton and Penkridge – 2011: 29

Image 22 – Cocroft, W Holbrook, W Lake, J Thomas R, J, C. (2011)

National Heritage Protection Plan Ministry of Defence Disposals Wiltshire: 90

Image 23 – Cocroft, W Holbrook, W Lake, J Thomas R, J, C. (2011)

National Heritage Protection Plan Ministry of Defence Disposals Wiltshire: 89

Image 24 – Map of Cranmoor Lodge Farm in 2015. Image courtesy of Cranmoor Residents Association Limited 2015:5

Image 25- Table of timeline of work at Cranmoor Lodge Farm, Image courtesy of Cranmoor Lodge Farm Cranmoor Residents Association ltd

Image 26 – Images of Elm Barn in 2014. Image courtesy of www.berrimaneaton.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/elm_barn.pdf

Image 27 – Image of new development facing the landscape. Image courtesy of rightmove.co.uk

Image 28- Image of remains from Wrottesley Wood. Image courtesy of author

Image 29 – Image of remains from Wrottesley Wood. Image courtesy of author

Image 30 – Image of remains from Wrottesley Wood. Image courtesy of author

Image 31 – Image of remains from Wrottesley Wood. Image courtesy of author

Image 32 – Image of remains from Wrottesley Wood. Image courtesy of author

Image 33 – Image of a track way in the woods. Image courtesy of author

Image 34 – Image of interpretation board, of the Penk Meadow and the outline of the airfield. Image courtesy of author

Image 35 – The Process of economic growth, decline and growth. Image courtesy of Historic England, 2013

Image 36 – Aerial image of Perton took in the 1970’s before the building of the new village on the former Second World site. Image courtesy of – A, Brew. 100 years of Wolverhampton’s airports

Image 37 – Satellite view of Wrottesley Wood and Staffordshire Way 2016. Image courtesy of googlemaps.co.uk

Image 38 – Birds eye view map of Wrottesley Park Road and the proposed new development. Image courtesy of google.co.uk/maps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aims:

 

The question asked on the front page will be explored through this paper, acting as its

foundation, and will be accompanied by discussion on the current heritage legislation and laws within the United Kingdom; that are linked to the conservation of former RAF sites. The case study of RAF Perton in South Staffordshire and the relevant documents published by the planning authorities will be analysed through this paper. Supported by relevant interviews and primary sources

 

Aims:

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. To assess the current legislation in regards to development and green belt land.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. To analyse the current state of RAF Perton in terms of its conservation and preservation.

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p<>{color:#000;}. Analyse Cranmoor Lodge Farm and the surrounding outbuilding in use from the Second World War and how the conservation has been sympathetic to its character.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. To critically analyse the proposals for development in Perton, and the impact it will have on the remains on RAF Perton.

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p<>{color:#000;}. To analyse what values are present at RAF Perton, and at other former RAF sites.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction:

This report will seek to analyse the impact development mainly through house building has on former Second World War Royal Air Force sites in England, with special focus on RAF Perton in South Staffordshire. The author has lived in Perton and RAF Perton will fit into a broader theme of conserving former military sites. ‘The 500-acre site became a new town with enough houses to accommodate 12,000 people. Today, with the exception of a few buildings around Cranmoor farm and off Wrottesley Park Road, nothing remains; the entire airfield is now covered in houses’ (Chorlton 2007: 163) The author will use these outbuildings that are left as case studies and a setting for the current proposal as of 2014 to build new homes on the site, and what it tells us of the local authority’s position on the relationship between heritage and development.

The role of the military in this landscape of South Staffordshire has a long history, in the First World War an airfield was constructed to support the growing air war that the British were fighting alongside their allies against Imperial Germany. Fast forward twenty five years later and Perton would become the target for military involvement again, the airstrip and its adjoining buildings were built shortly after the start of the Second World War, the former Royal Air Force Relief Landing ground airfield was key to help and support the local Halfpenny Wolverhampton Airfield and RAF Cosford, two bases that still operate to this day. It would house Dutch and USA troops preparing for the invasion of Normandy during its operational times. At the end of this chapter is a collection of second world war photos taken during the bases use, by the end of the war the airfield was officially made redundant in 1947, although during a short period after 1945 it housed Eastern European refugees after the effects of the end of the war. It was officially passed back to its former owners the Mander Family and used for agriculture purposes as a farmland for the ensuing decades.

The military involvement in Perton comes to an end, and like many areas that would now be termed Brownfield land it became an attractive site for developers to build post war communities. In 1972 the owners sold the land to a private developer, with plans drawn up to build a large scale village on the site of the former airfield. Within two years the newly formed South Staffordshire District Council was formed with Perton becoming a major village on the southern edge of the District. After the original wave of development there was very little change in forty years for the site. It is this point that this report fits in analysing the future development of Perton and its relationship with RAF Perton, a site and its history that is largely forgotten and not understood enough by local people today.

 

table<. <. |<.
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p<{color:#000;}. In 1972 the Mander family (owners) sold the site to a private developer, first houses built within years

 

| <. |<. p<{color:#000;}. The village of Perton continues to grow in 1974 joining the newly created the District Council of South Staffordshire

 

| <. |<. p<{color:#000;}. In 2005 permission was granted to convert farmhouses at Cranmoor Lodge Farm to apartments – at a higher price than local apartments.

 

| <. |<. p<{color:#000;}. In 2014 South Staffordshire Council agree to build 1,000 new homes by 2028. Proposals were offered with three plots in Perton. One being on the area of the old RAF Perton.

 

| <. |<. p<{color:#000;}. Later that year the proposals went out onto public consultation, the plans showed some homes would be built on Greenland, the plans were rejected | <. |<. p<{color:#000;}. In 2014 more farm buildings were converted at Cranmoor Lodge Farm, this time giving large homes, 2 and 3 bedroom, again at a higher average price than the village was selling at. | Image 2 – Table of RAF Perton’s development since the Second World War p<>{color:#000;}. In 2012 South Staffordshire District Council published its Core Strategy Development Plan Document which is planned to last until 2028, in this report the council set outs its plans for housing, countryside, economic vibrancy, community safety and children and young people services. Whilst subsequent reports have been published since then especially in regards to the 2014 proposal of new homes in the district, with three plots of land targeted in Perton; the original Core Development strategy is still in operation. In the spatial strategy section with image 3 on the next page showing a map of the spatial hierarchy in the district, it comments ‘To protect and maintain the Green Belt and Open Countryside in order to sustain the distinctive character of South Staffordshire’ (South Staffordshire Council 2012: 1) . The policies on the provision of housing is, ‘achieving a balanced housing market. Provision of affordable housing. Affordable Housing Rural Exception sites. Delivering affordable housing. Specialist housing accommodation. Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling show people’ (South Staffordshire District Council 2012: 2). The word affordable is a regular word that comes up across the whole document, setting out the council’s major push in the district.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image 3 –Image of Settlement Hierarchy in South Staffordshire. Image courtesy of [+ http://www.sstaffs.gov.uk/your_services/strategic_services/planning_policy_-_local_plans/site_allocations/initial_issues_and_options.aspx+]

 

 

National policy documents and reports from historic agencies and the Government amongst others allow a wider picture to emerge. This research will be set within the national debate over conservation, heritage, sustainable development, historic and natural landscapes. The early years of the twentieth century see a reduction in military spending by the UK Government and USA amongst others pulling all of its military bases from the country. Questions over the conservation of Second World War relics, balancing the encroachment of development on military bases, whilst protecting the characteristics of a village and the impact of house building on the natural environment are at the heart of the heritage sector. These questions and debates will only increase further through the years as the population continues to increase, there are less living survivors of the Second World War, and new challenges face us domestically through environmental, militarily and social challenges.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image 5 – The Dutch troops working at RAF Perton. Image courtesy of www.wolverhamptonhistory.org.uk

Image 4 – Queen Wilhelm of the Netherlands inspecting the Princess Irene Brigade of the Dutch Army, which was quartered on the accommodation units of RAF Perton. Image courtesy of Brew, A (2009) 100 Years of Wolverhampton’s Airports

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image 6 – The RAF Perton maintenance team alongside the solitary Bellman hanger, which was behind the control tower near to Wrottesley Park Road. Image courtesy of www.wolverhamptonhistory.org.uk

Image 7 – Prince Bernard visiting the Dutch camp at Wrottesley 1940-44. Image courtesy of search.staffspasttrack.org.uk

 

 

 

 

Literature Review:

 

For the research and completion of this paper the author consulted a number of published sources on the topic of value, military conservation, development issues and the legislation in place. This research was conducted over a number of inter-disciplines including heritage, archaeology, geography and history that were brought together for this analysis. All the sources that have been published have consulted, participated in and reviewed the national journey from each policy document and law that has been passed throughout the different UK Governments on heritage, with many of the authors helping to write the documents they subsequently consult. The author has detailed below in image 8 a table detailing the major national policy documents and other bills and laws that have been published and passed over recent years.

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Image 8 – Table of recent published national policy documents in the UK. Table courtesy of author

The issue over development on a heritage site is directly linked to the landscape that it fits in, whether this is protected by legislation, has recognised value or not the local community. This idea of legislation and preservation, is best analysed by Graham Fairclough in his 2015 publication titled ‘Theory and practice in Heritage and Sustainability’ that he wrote alongside Elizabeth Auclair. On a section focusing on heritage preservation and the burden that heritage has for planning officers and the local community he comments; ‘in some cases however, heritage preservation is also in some ways a ‘burden’ in the sense of being an inherited responsibility that cannot be put down It is necessary to make sure the burden can be carried without damaging or limiting other aspects of life, such as contemporary arts and creativity, without inducing negative socio-demographic and economic changes such as detioration, urban shrinkage or gentrification, and within a strongly cohesive social context’ (Fairclough, Auclair 2015:12) this analysis shows the importance of education and the ability to tell the local community that this important monument or landscape is important to them and deserves to be protected and conserved, a comparison with the author’s case study that is largely forgotten and misunderstood by the local community is worth noting.

Fairclough’s analysis of the archaeology is worth discussing further, he was a former landscape researcher at English Heritage, and had previously spearheaded the Historic Landscape Characterisations programme. In the 2010 edition wrote alongside McAtackney and Hicks, they published ‘Envisioning Landscape; Situations and Standpoints in Archaeology and Heritage’, in a chapter written by McAkackeny and Hicks in the book they assess, ‘landscape archaeology provides research tools that can examine why contemporary landscapes look as they do, how alternative perceptions of landscape are created and to what degree humanly induced change is part of the landscape’s character. But it must also be an applied field. Its application is not restricted to resource management, spatial management or environmental management, but extends into socially critical issues of the lived environment, sense of place, identity and how people see the world’ (Hicks, McAtackney, Fairclough 2010:124/5).This excellent excerpt touches a number of important discussions; the analysis of how much human change to a landscape is important in the complex question of development and its impact on the landscape, earlier comments on sustainability also come in at this point. This analysis of the landscape extending into heritage management and archaeology is important to the author’s research question.

This issue of landscape is discussed further by Lozny and Fairclough in their 2010 work published under the title, ‘Landscapes under pressure, assessing the changing factors of a landscape and ways to manage it’ ‘perceptions of landscape change continually, too, and also need some form of ‘management’ although this is an even more difficult area. A more accurate way of describing this process might be to say that perceptions and how they change become interesting fields in their own right, and one that can inform landscape management’ (Fairclough, Lozny 2010:58) Crucially for the angle that the author is approaching on a threat to a landscape the work continues ‘Merely identifying value does not create common ground in the wider landscape beyond the valued asset. Even if successful, saving one area simply pushed development into another part of the landscape, and unlike monuments and sites, landscapes has no edges of boundaries’ (Fairclough, Lozny 2010: 61). With the County of Staffordshire having an interconnected planning policy with different values being expressed at each site, this allows RAF Perton and its landscape to be seen in a wider context, allowing the alterations to be analysed at a greater depth.

Through his 2002 study Schofield analyses Bell’s work on sustainable development and it is this that is only more important today with an ever increasing population, a greater understanding and support of climate change and its effects globally. In 2005 at a research conference on sustainable development in Helsinki, Finland, Simon Bell and his colleague Stephen Morse analyse the practicality of sustainable development, ‘While many disagreements exist as to what sustainable development means in practice, there is no doubt as to its popularity. Typically sustainable development is conventionally promoted through the use of time and resource-bounded projects’ (Bell, S Morse, S 2005: 4) the authors offer examples of agriculture, water supply, resource management and most crucially development to examples where sustainability can be practically installed. Any proposal that is lodged to the relevant local authorities must show an appreciation of sustainability and their impact of the local environment and area.

The link between landscape and heritage is discussed further by Palang and Fry in their informative study in 2003 titled ‘Landscape Interfaces: Cultural Heritage in Changing Landscapes’, The two authors look at the link between landscape and its heritage, whilst it is now over ten years old the research is still relevant in cultural heritage. In the landscape interfaces section the author gives a setting ‘landscape conservation decisions force one to choose between restoring the processes shaping that landscape or trying to restore the state, the appearance of the landscape. While it is possible to restore the state of a landscape (mostly its appearance), it is much more difficult to restore the context that gave rise to the processes and functions of the landscape’ (Palang, Fry 2003: 2) this has links to restoring the landscape after development and the problem of creating a man made environment that promotes the values gained from the new landscape; but has lost its character. This leads onto authenticity within the context of landscape. ‘We regard authenticity as a key dimension or one of the basic aspects and most important to the choices within conservation, to people and their experience of countryside landscapes, and to understanding time dimensions, and the relations between now, future and past. Maybe it is most explicitly used as a key aspect within the conservation of the culture heritage.’ (Palang, Fry 2003:351) the idea of a landscape being authentic is very important in protecting it and challenging any notion of recreating it at a later or even different point in time. It helps to form the legislation over protection that the authenticity and character will be lost from the area and/or to the local community if any alteration is approved.

Former Royal Air Force bases are military structures that have now become redundant as their original function is out of date. The author consulted a number of recent and exemplary studies, and their findings focused on the impact of conservation with links to regeneration of military structures in Britain. With national legislation and policy documents being published extensively over the last few decades, a number of sources have positioned themselves in the national debate over the fate of our heritage. In 2002 John Schofield published, ‘Material Culture the archaeology of twentieth century conflict’. In this book Schofield argues what benefits these monuments whether derelict or in a good condition has for current and future generations, commenting ‘ these sites and monuments of war are of immense value, both for those involved in the events being recalled and their memories , but for this and future generations too. The remains have cultural and educational benefits’ (Schofield 2002: 145) Schofield is firm on what values can be gained by these structures and what will be lost if the building becomes damaged and/or badly conserved which leaves the building liable to collapse. Seven years later in 2009 Schofield is assesses the argument over preservation again, ‘there is a view that selected remains of the two World Wars and the Cold War must be preserved, in order that we ‘retain our sense of history’ as well as giving character to our towns and countryside’ (Schofield 2009:22) this sense of protecting remains for the community links directly to the authors case study of RAF Perton which is the only heritage site in the village of Perton, so whilst not nationally important does hold importance to the local community and has multiple values to the local population.

The research that the author is conducting is on the development and the context for the need to building and conserve. Ron Blake has written extensively on life after the abandonment of airbases especially in Lincolnshire, WWII and the Cold War and the balance for new development. Published in 2004 titled ‘Housing Development; Theory and Practice’ alongside Andrew Golland, they noted ‘since fewer than ten percent of Britain’s population need to live in rural areas to exploit and manage natural resources, there is inevitably a physiological debate over where development should properly be allowed to take place’ (Blake,R Golland, A 2004: 27) with the national population rising and a reducing natural resources, the need to review the current housing policy and development targets will need to be reassess with great challenges facing the country.

Following on from analyses of the impact of development, Blake looks at the debate from a military heritage angle. In Blake’s 2009 article on Airfield Closures and Air Defence Reorientation, he analyses the condition of the airfields after their redundancy, ‘for local authorities the chief challenge is to balance socio-economic revival with countryside conservation, especially where recent vacated bases lie in green belts’ (Blake 2009: 297) The author has inserted a table below in image 9 from the article showcasing the amount of military airfields that have become redundant and their survival rate since 1945. The need to find a balance between economic prosperity and protecting green belt land, will only increase through the decades, the Localism Bill of 2011 contributes further weight behind the loosening of the planning system to promote economic prosperity.

 

 

 

 

 

[_ Image 9- Blake R (2009) Airfield Closures and Air Defence Reorientation in Britain during the Cold War and Its Immediate Aftermath. 286 _]

 

The study of conflict and archaeology, especially battlefield archaeology has been researched and wrote on extensively by John Carman. But it is the notion of where heritage and culture fits into that is worth noting. In the 2002 research, titled ‘Archaeology and Heritage: An Introduction’, ‘culture is held to be durable and long-lasting and encompasses all that is common to a society or a self-affirming community. What is symbolized by the durability of shared culture is that sense of community. This reaffirms the opposition of the political to the economic and the public to the private in modernity: the symbolic value of the heritage as a public phenomenon therefore stands apart from the economic value of things in the private realm’ (Carman 2002: 195) the idea that heritage goes beyond purely an economic criteria for its importance to a local community and national importance.

The position of heritage and its tangible examples, through monuments and built heritage in the public context is further discussed by John Carman’s most recent work published in 2015 titled ‘Archaeological Resource Management’. An analysis of the idea of values and its place in the modern society Carman notes, ‘there are, however factors other than the purely physical which will determine the level at which an object, site or place has significance’ (Carman 2015:117). The idea of community and importance, as exemplified by Matthews’ 2008 study which remarks ‘the concept of the site itself may need to be reconsidered in addressing the question of its value to those to whom it ‘belongs’ (Matthews 2008: 89) this is important as each site may have a special significance for each community, whether the landscape or a particular monument. In his book Carman makes note of the categories and use of public value that the Heritage Lottery Fund has accomplished it, ‘adopted a tripartite approach to value: so-called intrinsic value which are those relating especially to fabric as discussed above; ‘instrumental’ values, relating to the benefits that can accrue from various uses to which the object or place can be such as tourism, educational and amenity use; and ’institutional values’, which derive from the activities of those organisations involved in managing and using the resource’(Carman 2015: 119). This analyse of ‘instrumental values’ is important in assessing the reasons why local authorities support a planning proposal and how funding is acquired to protect the funding.

This analysis of the public institutions approach to heritage and values is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. They commissioned Maeer to write and they then published a report in 2016 titled, ‘Values and benefits of heritage’ in a largely survey driven report, the researchers found ‘The historic environment seems to create a positive sense of place amongst its inhabitants. English Heritage research found evidence that the historic built environment contributes positively to sense of place, particularly in reinforcing local identity and higher levels of social capital’ (Maeer 2016: 19) this research again highlights the importance of community, showcasing its importance alongside the heritage value that the author is seeking to analyse in this study.

Laura Jayne Smith in her highly praised 2006 research titled. ‘Uses of Heritage’ coined the phrase Authorised Heritage Discourse (AHD), although it has its roots back in the 1980’s. Whilst it is now ten years old it is a text that helped shape the current discourse and debate over heritage and its place in academia. In the AHD section she proposes ‘The places of heritage may give added meaning and authority to the act of heritage – but the idea or substance of ‘heritage’ is not itself innately embedded in a physical relic or place. In sum, then, the cultural and political work or consequence of heritage is to negotiate and define cultural and social meaning in the present. However, the very masking of this process by the AHD has its own consequences’. She continues ‘Heritage management, conservation, preservation and restorations are not just objective technical procedures, they are just themselves part of the subjective heritage performance in which meaning is re/created and maintained (Jayne Smith 2006: 87) Jayne Smith sees the conservation of a site as a way to recreate or maintain the character and the history behind the site. The local community will be committed to preserve a local RAF site as it holds importance for them and their families, the memory of the Second World War is harder to understand with the survivors decreasing so a military site only increases in importance.

The author has also consulted with a number of local and regional sources to help understand better the landscape and site. But there is a gap in the research for the sites’ post war analysis and its relationship to the ‘modern’ village of Perton. There have been a number of studies on the building and use of the airfield most notably by Alex Brew and Martin Chorlton during the Second World War for example, ‘today, with the exception of a few buildings around Cranmoor farm and off Wrottesley Wood, nothing remains, the entire airfield is now covered in houses (Chorlton 2007:163) this excerpt is as close to an analysis of the current situation as any author has done for Perton.

The review of the current literature along with the debate and discourse around the concept of value, the heritage and conservation of former military buildings has highlighted the leading scholars in the heritage field. The work done by Laura Jayne-Smith on heritage discourse shown through her book titled ‘Uses of Heritage’, on authenticity and the place of heritage in the country will help this study looking at a local site but one that fits into a wider national story of the Second World War. The authors research fits well into the current debate within the sector, how should heritage be protected, what legislation there is and how this is interpreted by the local authorities with the relevant guidance and expertise. Across the country green spaces and landscapes are being threatened with development through commercial, industrial input and housing, this is leading to a greater study and research into not only protecting the landscape and heritage but how the sector can work with the relevant bodies .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Methodology:

 

To conduct the collection of data for this report the author aimed to gather this through a number of sources, listed below:

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Official Documents/sources

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Interviews

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p<>{color:#000;}. Desk based sources/ Secondary sources

Due to the nature of this report, researching the effect of development on redundant RAF buildings, a number of previous and current policy documents were investigated ranging from National Government to local council; enabling the case study of RAF Perton to be put in a context of the national picture as shown in image 10. Through an academic exercise the author wanted to know the thoughts and the views of a number of heritage institutions, local authorities and developers. From Historic England, the national agency for heritage, to the local council who approved or rejected local planning applications and to the developers themselves into how development over time and in the future could affect the heritage value of the site with special focus on Perton. Above all else RAF Perton is situated in a landscape; and whilst the primary focus a study of the natural environment and developments impact on it will be sought.

Supported by the works mentioned in the previous chapter on the literature review, the author analysed previous approaches to the collection of data and found Historic England’s recent survey into temporary airfields by Paul Francis, Richard Flagg and Graham Crisp published under the name ‘Nine thousand miles of concrete’ in conjunction with the Airfield Research Group in December 2015. The report’s executive summary explains its approach ‘this report looks at the intricate subject of Second World War temporary airfields, it briefly explains the planning, design and construction of airfield landscapes, the numbers and types built, and the reasons for their post-war demise’ (Francis, P Flagg, R Crisp, G 2015: 1) the assessment of their post war demise and their current function is what the author’s research is focused on and analysis of this report supported by an interview with Historic England will help form that.

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Whilst this report is focused primarily on RAF Perton and the local South Staffordshire surroundings, the author wished to look at the national picture. The National Planning Policy Framework from 2012 and the Culture White Paper from 2016; both of these are national policy documents that deal with a whole variety of heritage and archaeology needs was analysed to understand what the law and the government thought of development onto or near heritage sites. For this research analysis of the two documents that are both still in use today; are important as they are the documents that the council and the residents will use when bringing up challenges or proposals to particular development schemes and redevelopment etc that has an effect on the environment, natural and historic. The Culture White Paper is an extension of the NPPF as it explains the current government’s policy’s that it wishes to enact, due to the centralised structure in England; these will have a major impact on the council’s own initiatives and policies, especially in regards to housing developments for example.

The author will analyse reports that are critical or supportive of the government policy documents to assess the current situation and the impact on the process in Perton. An example of this is in late 2014 two years after the NPPF document was published the DCLG (Department for Communities and Local Government) select committee challenged the document, wanting assurances on a number of questions; it raised some major worries over its implementation on local cases and its overall approach. The report of this was published in 2015 as the ‘Government response to the Communities and Local Government Select Committee Inquiry into the Operation of the National Planning Policy Framework’. A policy document that is reviewed by this especially with the same Secretary of State in charge of the Department, Eric Pickles (former MP) allows the department to analyse its progress. The author acknowledges the department for its own political motives will attempt to present the original document as hugely successful, but for the research on RAF Perton this will help

The most accessible to research was Historic England (England Heritage), the national body for the protection of England’s heritage. The author analysed the documents, Historic Military Aviation sites, Conservation management guidance from 2003 and Designation, Listing selection guide Military sites from 2011, and the later edition published in 2013 titled military sites post 1500. These up to date reports enabled the author to assess the current listings and designations in place and look at case studies of similar threats to RAF and similar period military sites and how these were being protected from development or through legislation local and national.

One of the national documents consulted from Historic England was the extensive survey called ‘Nine thousand miles of concrete’ as mentioned in the opening part of this chapter, it is Historic England’s alliance with the Aviation research group whose aim is, ‘to advance the education of the general public by carrying out research into, and maintaining records of, military and civilian airfields and related infrastructure, both current and historic, anywhere in the world’ (2016 Airfieldresearchgroup.com) that allowed the author to consult with the group, they are made up of volunteers, retired professional and amateurs with a keen interest and knowledge on the heritage sector, and an interview was made with a member of the group of their views on the current state of military conservation.

 

 

Image 11 – Logo of Airfield Research Group www.airfieldresearchgroup.org.uk

Continuing on the national picture, the author analysed the House of Commons National Planning Policy on the Communities and local government committee, which was published in March 2016; this gave the governments most up to date views. The author continued to look at the opinions of the people making decisions. Only a few years after the original National Planning Policy Framework was published in 2012, the chair of Communities and Local Government Committee criticised the document, the government’s response to their criticisms and from their opinion the inability of the government to protect communities from sustainable development; this all resulted in the government responding to the questions. The author found this a helpful source because three years in, it allowed the government to review the implementation of the original National Planning Policy Framework and the Localism Bill the year earlier and answer questions on the bill’s effectiveness in protecting local communities and heritage sites.

As well as analysing the national heritage legislation, the author wished to understand the views of the people who are tasked with deciding what planning applications are accepted and other heritage matters. The author interviewed local South Staffordshire Member of Parliament Gavin Williamson M.P, the Conservative MP has been in his post since 2010, not only this but for six years from 2010-2016 was the parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister David Cameron, his local opposition to previous planning proposals alongside his experience in Government. Due to the County Council and other areas being run during this time by various different parties, the author also interviewed Leader of the Labour Party in South Staffordshire; Councillor Jeff Ashley, this long serving councillor who has long campaigned on housing and is a member of the National Councillors Association has allowed the author to gain an insight into where Perton fits into the wider District policy’s currently and to the future.

The study of South Staffordshire District Councils aims and strategies must start at the Core Strategy Development Plan Document, published in 2012. The aims is for the plan to be in function until 2028, it covers a number of different topic areas, but for this research the sections on housing, spatial strategy and the economy, and its links with the earlier two will be analysed the closest by the author. Two years later the council published its important enlarged strategy to build more homes in the district, this document is worth comparing, as the Development Plan explains in wider detail the council’s plans in housing, the green belt land and the natural environment. The author will lay out in the coming paragraphs the documents that have preceded the original Development Plan, but these are much smaller and specific to each area, the fact we are only into its fourth year as a plan makes its readings and predictions still important to this day.

The author consulted with a number of policy documents and reports by South Staffordshire District Council since the original 2012 Development plan document. In chronological order the Site Allocations Document (SAD) ‘Preferred options’ consultation was published in 2015 on the back of the council’s earlier years statement of the plots of land in each village that was now earmarked for development. The author analysed the section on Perton, it detailed the three plots of land in the village that could be developed. One of these, the land adjacent to Wrottesley Park Road that was detailed for the construction of 163 homes, is the land that the author will focus on for this study into RAF Perton. The same year the council published its detailed, ‘South Staffordshire Landscape Sensitivity Study’, this report focuses on the current landscape in the district especially in connection to the proposed development. The aims of the report are ‘As part of this process, it looks at the single issue of landscape sensitivity. Natural England (2014) defines landscape sensitivity as the extent to which a landscape can accept change of a particular type (in this case new residential and commercial development) without unacceptable adverse effects on its character (South Staffordshire District Council 2015:2) the author is conducting this report by looking at how it will affect the heritage value so analysis of the impact of the environmental and aesthetic value that this report is conducting is important.

The issue of development at RAF Perton goes back earlier than the current development proposals in the district. In 2007 the farm on the site called Cranmoor Lodge Farm was the location for the development of 16 residential units of the former barns and military units, it is located to the side of the Staffordshire Way and the Monarch’s way, and has allowed the remaining parts of the airfield to be used for agriculture, and thus protecting the landscape for decades to come. This process to development on the site through the conversion of derelict farm buildings and military outbuildings proposed by the site owner Miss. York allows the author to consult with primary sources that shed a light on the relationship with RAF Perton. The author analysed the original proposals, consulted with Perton Parish council minutes from the time to assess the reaction that this had in the local council and population. A second and third wave of development in 2014 and 2015 has since happened at the farm and will be the subject of further analysis by the author of the local authority’s approach and the result of it, in connection to the heritage value.

The first conversion of Cranmoor Lodge Farm would take a few years to be completed, by this time Staffordshire County Council had published a few documents dealing with the heritage sites in the county, with the Historic Environment Assessments (HEA) conducted from 2009-2013, featuring a section on Perton that was completed in 2011, these documents had helpful sections of the impact on a whole range of values connected to the local community. Whilst starting the research, the author interviewed Debbie Taylor on protection and conservation of RAF Perton; she has helped to write the assessment on Perton and is a Heritage Consultant for Staffordshire County Council, as an archaeologist she has helped to assess planning applications for the village and the site over the years. It is her work that the author will analyse including the HER sections on Wrottesley Wood, Smith’s Rough and Cranmoor Lodge. Image 12 shows the map of Perton with the modern housing estate underneath the map of the landscape with the sites of the Dippon’s Farm, the current settlement in the village and the site of RAF Perton.

 

 

 

Image 12 – HEA of Perton, showing site of RAF Perton within the modern Perton estate. 2011

 

The question that the author seeks to answer deals with the topic of development and developers approach to heritage sites and sites of specialised importance. Through email exchanges with Historic England, the author was able to look at examples where the development and a close association with developers had helped to make the transition from a derelict/redundant RAF site to a house or a museum. Particular examples from RAF Hinstock in Shropshire and RAF Bicester in Oxfordshire alongside the documents produced from these sites help the author to assess sites that are longer in the process of coping with mass development. The author also analysed a research review from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2016 into the values and benefits of heritage and the impact on the historic environment.

The primary focus for this report is on the new homes that have been earmarked for construction in Perton, unlike the Cranmoor Lodge Farm and other district wide examples these would be specifically new homes on new land and primarily on green belt land. The author was able to consult with a wide range of primary material from late 2014 when South Staffordshire District Council first proposed the house building. Due to the planning process the sites had to go out to public consultation and to get reviews and reports from a whole range of stakeholders, the later was published in the later representations. This document proved very beneficial due to the benefit of different sectors commenting on the proposals, from neighbouring councils, National Trust and the Environment Agency just to name a few.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Process of change at the front view of Cranmoor Lodge Farm facing the Staffordshire Way:

Image 14 – 2005 onwards –The location of the Officers quarter block and adjoining buildings, to the right of this photo the large fields used for crop growing in the summer months http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/384570

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image 15 – 2009 – In the process of construction work to turn the former barracks and outbuildings into apartments. The buildings have also been given their original paint work: [+ https://geolocation.ws/v/W/File%3ABuilding%20works%20at%20Cranmoor%20Lodge%20Farm%20-%20geograph.org.uk%20-%201421185.jpg/-/en+]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image 16 – 2012. On completion of the homes in late 2011 they were put up for sale. Image courtesy of [+ http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-24441492.html+]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image 17 – 2015. Photo at spring. By 2011 the original barn and military buildings conversion was completed . Image courtesy of author

 

 

Data Analysis:

 

For this research the author collected the data through a mixture of interviews, analysis of primary data from Government and Council reports and documents along with photographic research done on the site by the author themselves. Image 18 is a table of the breakdown of the interviews that the author conducted and the interviewers reply to the structured questions. This whole research is an analysis of the authorities approach to conserving the natural and historic environment along with development and its impact on the previous the environment. A desk based approach was undertaken to analyse the current national and regional policy documents and their approach to development and the heritage values in the landscape and the allocated land. This strategy was joined by a photographic exploration around Perton that formed an important catalogue of the remaining parts of RAF Perton and help to show where the major sections of the camp remain; this is included at the end of this chapter.

 

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Image 18. Table of interviews took by author. Image courtesy of author

 

Analysis of the data in this chapter has been separated into heritage values, development and on RAF Perton the case study of this research. At times certain sources will cross over onto multiple sections, and the author has chosen what category they will be discussed based purely on what is discussed the most. The development section is aimed to analyse desk based literature and interviews based on the general theme of development and its impact on RAF bases and heritage values.

 

 

Heritage values:

 

Through a number of different approaches undertaken to collect data, the importance of heritage values that assess significance, prioritize resources, and inform conservation decision-making was analysed. This study is looking at it through the context of airfield sites, through an interview with the Aviation Research Group, on what values could be lost from development. Their spokesman Paul Francis explains ‘the problem with redeveloping ex-military sites is that once they have been developed and erased from the local community, their existence is quickly forgotten unless there is some kind of reminder such as a memorial, interpretation boards, museum or listed building.  This is why recording of military buildings and their landscape is so important and should be carried out as part of the planning process’ (Francis 2016 pers.com.) he goes on to explain the recording of these sites is important for the future generations understanding of the past, a educational value is seen to encourage future generations to see this heritage just as important as it is seen today.

In 2011 the South Staffordshire section of the Historic Environment Record was published with a section on Perton, and the areas that the three plots of land in 2014 are proposed, Perton Court Farm, Dippon’s Lane, Cranmoor Lodge, Wrottesley Park Road and the wood bearing its name. This document focused a lot on the values for each site and what historic significance could be lost and therefore needs to be protected for future generations. To help analysis the document further the author interviewed Debbie Taylor from Staffordshire County Council, who wrote South Staffordshire’s original Historic Environment Record and is now a heritage consultant. She points out ‘I can confirm that RAF Perton and the adjacent ‘Dutch Camp’ are recorded on the HER, which broadly encompass the site of the air field and the known location of associated buildings.  It should be noted that the inclusion of RAF Perton and the ‘Dutch Camp’ within the HER does not infer any designated status on above or below ground remains, nor upon any surviving standing buildings’ (Debbie Taylor 2016 pers.com.) the importance of these sites on the HER record are a sign of its importance to the site and the wider landscape that it fits into, but the monuments do not have any protection on them, albeit they are found within green belt land. Image 19 on the next page is a table of the heritage values for Wrottesley Park and Smith’s Rough, the latter is also called Bluebell Wood in certain maps.

On the document itself the section with the highest surviving values is evidential values, it comments ‘any information relating to the Dutch camp which survives would add considerably to our understanding of the operation of these sites during the Second World War which is of national as well as local interest’ (South Staffordshire District Council 2011: 32) an educational value is seen here and along with Mrs. Taylor’s interview above any research is aimed at increasing our understanding of the site rather than a strategy to protect and conserve it. One of the key heritage values is its historic significance and how this can be conserved and presented as an important asset to the local community, who will be the people who will be in touch with it on a regular basis. The table explains ‘the network of tracks which run through the woodland to the east of Wrottesley Park Road were probably laid down during the Second World War and are closely related to the history of RAF Perton’ (South Staffordshire District Council 2011:27) the knowledge of this to the local community would allow the history of the base to be better understood, the author’s photographic record conducted as part of this research is another important feature that will allow all of the remains to be recorded.

 

 

 

 

 

Image 19 Table of Wrottesley Wood and Smith’s Rough heritage value. Image courtesy of HEA Perton and Penkridge – 2011: 27/28

 

 

 

The second part on Perton is Cranmoor Lodge and its surrounding area as shown in images 20 and 21 through a table of heritage values and a map of the site on the next pages. The twentieth century impact on the site and landscape is, ‘during the Second World War part of the army camp described under PRHECZ 3 was established within this zone. Several barracks buildings survive to the west of Cranmoor Lodge Farm, although they have been converted to domestic use during the early 21st century. One further building survives to the south of the modern track way whose function is not entirely clear’ (HER 2011:31) this report was completed in 2011 and explains the Cranmoor Lodge Farm conversion into apartments, the further building the authors believes to be the ‘shed’ a surviving monument and relic of the airfields time as a training base in the 1940’s.

Whilst there is a high evidential value like at the other sites analysed in Perton, none of the values deals with the twentieth century’s impact on the site. In fact the older the surviving evidence in the landscape and the buildings only increases its importance to conserve the area of its natural and historic environment. Protection of the landscape itself and its character is vital no matter what age it dates to, ‘I personally think that protection of our natural heritage is absolutely vital as once it is gone it is something which can never be recovered’ and ‘I do think we cannot put too high a price on our heritage and natural environment’ (Williamson 2016, pers.com.) this excerpt from my interview with South Staffordshire’s MP Gavin Williamson, arguably as the Government’s Chief Whip the highest Conservative politician in the constituency says that the protection of our natural environment i.e. historic landscapes and their environment is a major concern, he has in the past campaigned for the protection of other areas of the district and this is something that he and his office are committed to protecting. The full transcript of the interview is inserted into the appendix 1F.

Image 20 Table of Cranmoor Lodge, Old Perton and Pattingham Road’s heritage value. Image courtesy of HEA Perton and Penkridge – 2011: 32

 

 

Image 21 Map of Cranmoor Lodge, Old Perton and Pattingham Road’s heritage value. Image courtesy of HEA Perton and Penkridge – 2011: 29

 

 

Development:

Development is directly linked to the decisions taken by local authorities and Heritage Agency’s across the country during any planning proposal. A long serving District Councillor and Leader of the Labour Party on the council Jeff Ashley answers my question on the threat from housing building, he remarks ‘What effect housing might have on the heritage of the district is difficult to assess. As you know 80% of South Staffs is Green Belt and we try to protect it, but there big slices of it land under threat from suggested further housing development and more significantly from large commercial schemes’ (Ashley 2016, pers.com.) as a long serving councillor, Jeff Ashley was involved in the original 2012 Core Policy Strategy Document that laid out the Local Authority’s approach to housing and development.

An extra step on development that involves any association with a heritage site and protected areas is to gain advice from stakeholders and professionals. Debbie Taylor a heritage consultant at Staffordshire County Council comments on the questions on the conservation of RAF Perton, ‘We have previously advised archaeological mitigation on planning applications which have come forward to South Staffordshire Council as the LPA. As a result of this South Staffordshire have required a building recording survey on one of the RAF buildings located near Cranmoor Lodge as a condition on the planning permission.  A copy of the report is held by the HER’ (Taylor 2016 per.com.) as the power of attorney the council deals with the protection of heritage assets in the district, and Mrs. Taylor who has helped write the 2011 HEA (Historic Environment Agency) for Perton along with her team is committed to ensuring the historic environment and its character is kept for the future generations.

Historic England, the national agency for England also comments, ‘At a number of locations, eg Old Sarum, Duxford, Biggin Hill, Upper Heyford, Kenely, etc, national listings are combined with local designated Conservation Areas and at present this appears to be best means of managing these very large areas’ (Wayne Cocroft 2016 pers.com.) one of Historic England’s case studies is RAF Lyneham, a site that was closed in 2012. The report was commissioned to record Salisbury’s landscape from the late nineteenth century; this included the RAF base, shown in images 22 and 23. The first image offers a striking similarity to the surviving outbuildings from RAF Perton at Cranmoor Lodge, although as Perton was only a temporary airfield it does not compare with the large scale of this site. Image 23 is a bird’s eye view of the site showing the development.

Image 22 – Cocroft, W Holbrook, W Lake, J Thomas R, J, C. (2011)

National Heritage Protection Plan Ministry of Defence Disposals Wiltshire: 90

 

 

Image 23 – Cocroft, W Holbrook, W Lake, J Thomas R, J, C. (2011)

National Heritage Protection Plan Ministry of Defence Disposals Wiltshire: 89

 

 

These interviews have discussed the suitability of any area for development; as well as the legislation and protection areas have from proposed development. From the developers angle the approval will lead to more jobs being created, more targets met on a regional and national basis, as well as a greater profit for the company. So the attractiveness for them is all to see but ‘decisions about whether or not to allow development near heritage sites must be weighed against the public benefit of the development’ (DCMS 2016, pers.com.). This answer from the Government Department for Culture (DCMS) shows there is a balance between both sides at the heart of the current UK laws. The public benefit could be the need for new housing, economic support through jobs and commercial locations. The LUC (land use consultants) in 2014 was commissioned to assess large-scale housing development in the country in relation to the NPPF 2012 and its impact on the historic environment. ‘However, the ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’ and the government’s vision of the housing market as a driver (rather than an indicator) of economic recovery could be interpreted as placing additional pressure on Local Planning Authorities’ (LUC 2014: 2) this consultancy company’s assessment is important to assess, as consultants they have advised many investors and buyers of land and housing development over the years. Their analysis, that the push for more housing whilst at the same time encouraging a greener focus on the house building sector is putting more pressure on the local authorities not to mention the relax of the legislation towards green belt land and what is seen in Perton with the major proposed house building

The earlier paragraph touches onto the NPPF, it was published in 2012, and lays out the current government’s approach to planning, housing requirements, economic factors as well as sustainable development. This has major effects for RAF Perton and its protection from development, one of the lands earmarked has land next to it that would affect the values of the remains of the camp, this his interpreted by the document as safeguarded land this is, ‘land (that) is not allocated for development at the present time. Planning permission for the permanent development of safeguarded land should only be granted following a Local Plan review which proposes the development’ (DCLG 2012:20) this means that it a new site that has already been set aside by the local authorities only needs a later review to determine its new suitability for permanent development, this loose wording in the document could be interpreted by a local authority that is under pressure to build more houses; rush through the review and then start development that could have major impacts on the natural and historic environment.

In December 2015 the UK Government Department for Communities and Local Government launched an inquiry into consultation on national planning policy, based on the current implementation of the 2012 NPPF; in 2016 it was published by authority of the House of Commons. The report published analyses the current situation of the planning process and asks the government questions. This report helps the author analyse the current policies that will have an impact on the local situation in Perton and the RAF community. The cross party committee commented on the green belt land situation ‘We agree that, in some circumstances, it may be appropriate for local authorities to allocate Green Belt land for housing, and establish new Green Belt land elsewhere. As a rule, local authorities should carry out proper reviews of the Green Belt as an integral part of their local planning process. However, at present, we do not believe that there is sufficient guidance available to local authorities on whether it is appropriate for Green Belt land to be used to meet housing needs’ (House of Commons 2016:13) the report is critical of the government’s approach to green belt land, and with the increasing targets for new homes local authorities are allowing development to happen on green belt. This does not mean they are wrong certain council’s only have green belt land to build on, and a proper use of sections or a small encroachment.

This document was helpful for the author’s analysis as it gained over 50 stakeholder’s views on this issue; the author has analysed a number of opposing views to understand the current feeling in the sector. The National Housing Federation whose aim is to represent homeowners and thus is more positive on development that other agency’s comments; ‘The NHF has estimated that of the 49,000 hectares of Brownfield land in England, 23,500 hectares are suitable for use for housing. Noting that this would be enough land for approximately one million homes, or four and a half years of housing demand, it advocated a “pragmatic” approach to the release of some Green Belt land for use for housing’ (House of Commons 2016: 13) a balance of approaches is crucial for any housing model, especially on the subject of development on green belt land. But the Campaign for National Parks cautioned that the policy as it ‘undermines rural exception sites and will do nothing to deliver affordable homes to help meet local housing need’ (House of Commons 2016: 15) whilst this research question does not specify what kind of development will be analysed, and the author does not have enough space to assess the different kind of housing that could be built once an application is accepted. But it is not surprising that the local parish council has used its long term support for affordable housing as a tactic for its support.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RAF Perton:

 

Whilst this report is focused on the current planning policy and approach to development in the district and Perton, analysis of previous development was sought in the collection of data. The numerous conservation cycles at Cranmoor Lodge Farm starting in 2005 and continuing to the present day give an insight into the development approach. Analysis of the proposal in 2007 ‘To determine an application for the conversion and adaption of barns and former RAF buildings to provide 16 residential units with associated garden, parking and communal courtyard areas landscaping and access improvements’ (Cranmoor Lodge Farm Association 2005: ) this proposal was approved and permission was granted for the 16 homes, the report is very detailed in the requirements that would need to be implemented. The report gains a large array of stakeholders to comment on the suitability of the land for conversion.

A recent application for the removal of underground tanks on the land, was helpful for the author in gaining a review of all of the development on Cranmoor Lodge farm and the surrounding former RAF base, the image of where the tanks would be removed within the expanding Cranmoor Lodge estate is inserted below. These Second World War tanks are now redundant and their removal has positive impacts on the environment, as happened with American registered tanks removed from Perton Ridge in the later parts of the twentieth century.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image 24 – Map of Cranmoor Lodge Farm in 2015. Image courtesy of Cranmoor Residents Association Limited 2015:5

 

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Image 25. Table of timeline of work at Cranmoor Lodge Farm, courtesy of Cranmoor Lodge Farm Cranmoor Residents Association ltd

Image 25 shows the table of the timeline of activity at the Farm and the development approved over the last few years, that is continuing to this day, ‘Proposed partial demolition and alteration of agricultural barn to form one dwelling and retrospective application for the retention of two dwellings’ (Perton Parish Council 2016:6) this was approved by Perton Parish Council on May 2016, so over the years image 24 will have to be redrawn to show the continuing development on the site.

This study is analysing the effect from development, and so the author collected data from developers and estate agents to how development on the farm has been able to keep the character of the old military buildings within a new setting. In 2014 the Elms Barn section was completed, the five barns were developed by Tatton Hall Homes and brought to market by Berriman Eaton and Right Move as shown in images 26 and 27 on the next page. This data was helpful in giving photos and plans for what the conversion of these heritage assets look when completed.

At the same time that the Elm Barn conversion at Cranmoor Lodge Farm was underway in 2014, South Staffordshire District Council published its proposed plots of land for extra land. On the site nearest to Cranmoor Lodge Farm and the remains of RAF Perton, the Wrottesley Park Road north and south side, the author analysed the data gathered from a range of stakeholders, it was largely positive, the site ‘offers very good vehicular and pedestrian access via the existing roundabout close to the golf course entrance; No issue with coalescence or encroachment’ (South Staffordshire Council 2014: 45) the only concerns lies with the Environment Agency ‘There are ponds and wet ditches within this site, therefore redevelopment should ensure no loss of wetland habitat, and should retain connectivity between ponds’ (South Staffordshire District Council 2014: 45) . On the southern side, the reports are just as positive, ‘No issues of coalescence or encroachment; site makes least contribution to the Green Belt; could easily accommodate the housing requirement; parts of site should be allocated for safeguarded land; only parts of site 407 should be allocated for housing’ (South Staffordshire District Council 2014: 45) whilst the comments are positive, the issue lies with plot of land 407, the safeguarded land won’t have development yet, and it shows concern already over the future impact of development on the environment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Images 26 (left and above) – View and layout of Elms Barn after completion in 2014. Image courtesy of berrimaneaton.co.uk

 

 

 

Image 27 – View towards the Staffordshire Way. Image courtesy of rightmove.co.uk

 

Whilst the Wrottesley Park Road plot has positive individual response from stakeholders and the council, when linked to the wider village and the other plots combined the picture is very different. On the concluding remarks from each stakeholder for all of the proposals in Perton, Shropshire County Council, a neighbouring county commented, ‘particularly concerned at the potential development capacity of the sites being proposed in the settlements of Perton’ (South Staffordshire District Council 2014: 46) this was joined by Wolverhampton City Council assessing that ‘Development close to Wolverhampton boundary would require a landscape buffer to reduce the impact on Wolverhampton residents and maintain the existing no left turn/no right turn between Wrottesley Park Road and Pattingham Road’ (South Staffordshire District Council 2014: 46). The impact on the left turn is crucial from Wrottesley Park Road as it is an indication that the amount of extra traffic going down the Road and past the remains of RAF Perton at Cranmoor Lodge will increase rapidly, a mention of the need for extra school places is worth noting as this would also increase the road usage. This report has shown that the impact of development near to RAF Perton is largely small, but the indirect effect across the whole village will impact on the site hugely, through extra carrying capacity, noise pollution and an overall change in the landscape.

Following on a year later, the Site Allocations Document was published in 2015, the document’s remit is ‘not to give planning permission to a particular proposal as this needs to be done through the planning application process. It does however agree the principle that a suitable form of development can be located on a particular site, and where relevant, change the current land designation in order to facilitate that development coming forward, for example removing a housing site from the Green Belt’ (South Staffordshire District Council 2015: ). The idea of a suitable form of development is development that is not too damaging to the environment or the green belt. This concept is already been explored on a small scale with eco friendly houses and aesthetically pleasing development. If this was extended from the standard house building outline, this could see a greater support from Local Authority’s to give permission, and the possible government financial incentives.

The document also marks out ‘safeguarded land site boundary’ next to the current proposed development, this is worth analysing further. It is a site that could be redeveloped in the future but is currently not proposed for development, this site is termed 239 on the map, it comments ‘Requirements: 7ha to be removed from the Green Belt remaining outside development boundary until Local Plan review to consider development potential. Vehicular access off Wrottesley Road’ (South Staffordshire Council 2015:) these two concerns which could become apparent if development in the future is expanded right or left of the current targeted land. This shows the local authority is making sure the effect from development onto the character and the landscape on the western side of Perton is minimal and in fact has positive aspects for its new use of the land.

The document published above was joined by the Landscape Sensitivity survey also published in 2015. The report details each site in the district and their level of sensitivity to housing and development. The difference to the earlier report is it deals with all the sites allocated whether planned for the current cycle of development or allocation for future development. The Wrottesley Park Road site deals with all development proposed adjacent to the road, unsurprisingly the report earmarks this site as having a medium to high effect on the landscape and the character from development. It comments on the development that is earmarked for future development ‘The remainder of the LCP to the west is visible in views on the approach from the north and any built development here would be detrimental to the setting of the village’ (South Staffordshire Council 2015:431) the report concludes on the major impacts on the characteristics and values of the landscape and area, ‘no built development should take place beyond the first western field boundary within the northern part of the LCP in order to protect views on the approach to the settlement from the north. No issues with built development between Wrottesley Park Road and the eastern edge of the golf course. The existing landscape structure and landscape features should be respected’ (South Staffordshire Council 2015: 434) it confirms the earlier report that the land near to the roundabout and golf course is a good location for housing, with the landscape and the values in the area towards the settlement of Perton should be protected.

The data collected in this chapter in relation to heritage management of former military sites and the values found in the sites and the landscapes has helped to support the debate on conservation practices on redundant RAF sites. Images 24 and 25 at Cranmoor Lodge show how well conservation within a heritage building can be achieved, whilst keeping the character of the farm building, the neighbouring military buildings and the landscape intact. The new development has left barely any permanent mark on the area, due to the expert sympathetic conservation that has extended current buildings and crucially kept all the buildings to their original height, along a strong aesthetic value to be seen for all residents and walkers alike.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wrottesley Wood:

Image 28 – (Top left)

Image 29 – (Top right)

Image 30 – (Above)

Image 31 – (Above right)

Image 32 – (Right) all images courtesy of author

Discussion:

 

This paper has been wrote within the period of time that the review into the second consultation that ended in February 2016 for the proposal of new homes in the District, including three plots of land in Perton. Analysis of the road to this point has been investigated in the data gathering through the collection of a number of primary sources. If the development is approved, the village of Perton that has stayed largely constant in terms of population and geographic location since its inception in the 1970’s will see the largest change. Any change like this could have far reaching impacts of the local village and the site of RAF Perton.

Through the data collection the author has unearthed a history of the site. With prehistoric finds, medieval field patterns, and the First World War training airfield all located on the landscape. This large heritage timeline only reinforces the importance of the landscape to be conserved, in a reference to the Second World War period, the Council comment; ‘a ny information relating to the Dutch camp which survives would add considerably to our understanding of the operation of these sites during the Second World War which is of national as well as local importance’ (South Staffordshire HEA -Penkridge and Perton 2011:28), there is a need to uncover not only primary sources but conduct archaeological investigations onto the site. The latter point is discussed, ‘there is a high to moderate potential for above and below ground archaeological remains to survive across the zone’ (South Staffordshire HEA -Penkridge and Perton 2011:28), the zone mentioned is the area covering Cranmoor Lodge and which is under threat from the proposed development, one of the biggest threat from development is the lack of a full understanding of the area and its history that goes back further than this paper is focused on before development encroaches further onto the landscape and the site. The values already at present at the site are communal value, the history of the village, and the site’s contribution to the war effort, for both World Wars. Aesthetic value is prominent; the links to the Staffordshire and Monarch’s Way which see many walkers and members of the local community walk onto across towards other landscapes.

 

Image 33 – Image of a track way in the woods. Image courtesy of author

Image 34 – Image of interpretation board, of the Penk Meadow and the outline of the airfield near to Wrottesley Wood. Image courtesy of author

 

The collection of data in this paper from a variety of sources has reinforced the view that green belt land is under threat from development across the country. The reports from the number of House of Common’s reviews into the Localism Bill, NPPF and current policies have expressed worry over the strain on Local Authority’s demands on the true extent of decentralisation, as this in itself can create problems. Within a few months of the NPPF being given Royal Assent in 2012, a article was published by Qbal Hamiduddin and Nick Gallent, looking at the removal of regional planning; ‘long-term demand for new housing has not subsided, and although localism has set out to strengthen local involvement in planning, pressure may be exerted at the sub regional level to deliver housing in line with economic growth’. The effect of these on planning is, ‘the scheme is likely to achieve its greatest impacts where development already enjoyed some level of community and political support. It may not be a game changer in those areas where development remains contentious and is unwanted by more conservative communities. In these instances, the collective gaze of local politicians—and hence their planning teams—will remain fixed on less contentious sites, with development being confined to infill or directed to out of-the-way barracks or airfield site’ (Hamiduddin, I Gallent, N 2012: 528/9) the latter point by the author’s is a snap shot to the planning authorities aims in 2014 in Perton, with a development near to RAF Perton, and the other two proposed development opportunities are on Dippon’s Lane and Perton Court, these two are infilling on current development.

The effect of development is shown most prominently in the report that South Staffordshire District Council published from the feedback that it got from a number of stakeholders to the development proposals. For the sites on Perton there were worries over noise levels, access from the current road, a possibly issue with traffic management, new facilities needed to cope with the extra population i.e. a new primary school being built, and a worry over the aesthetic qualities. Apart from the later point none of these issues are unique to development on a heritage site. Building new houses onto a former industrial factory that is Brownfield land will have the same problems for the local community from the increase in the population. This touches onto the broader questions over the effect of development on a former RAF site, through my interview with the largest national aviation research group, its spokesman saw a loss to the local community, ‘recording of military buildings and their landscape is so important and should be carried out as part of the planning process. The results of this survey should be given to the local museum, records office or library’ (Francis, P 2016 pers.com.). A loss of knowledge to the community, an education value is shown to be a feature that could be lost if development without the proper photographic and historical record is conducted by the relevant people.

To analyse the impact of development on heritage sites, the author has consulted with; the House Building Federation, a private sector body that aims to represent the countries developers. In January 2016 they published a report titled, ‘Cutting Red Tape – Sector Review of House Building’ a sharp critique of the current state of the sector. In their summary at the start of the document and commenting on the results of their consultation, it has ‘identified several other areas of regulation and related regulatory process that are of concern to the industry and which are seen to have adverse impacts on the time required and the risk involved in residential development as well as adding to the costs of development. Collectively these adverse impacts cannot fail to be constraining the speed of housing delivery and industry capacity (HBF 2016: 1). The current development proposal for South Staffordshire was proposed in 2014 and has not yet been approved; a symptom of the slow approval must lie in the complicated heritage issues on the site. The HBF of course has its own motives to criticise the government, the removal of red tape and regulation will see profits increase and faster completions. It is a warning to the future where the sector wishes to go; this looser regulation could only mean negative effects of heritage sites and their landscapes.

In 2014 the year that South Staffordshire District Council set out its proposals for the new wave of development (Independent) Parish councillor Penny Allen led a local initiative. One the back of a threat to RAF Perton and a major change in the village’s landscape she proposed to put four models of the airfield’s past on the village’s roundabouts to better commemorate the village’s link to the airfield that played a important part in the war she said, ‘I would like us to think about commemorating our recent past history as an airfield’ (Expressandstar.com 2014). Historic and communal values are shown here in a need to better publicise the importance of the site and its history to the local population. Similar to other sites across the country once a development is proposed then a community spirit gathers pace to interpret the site as achieving as many of the ‘new economic use’ values as possible.

 

Image 35 – The Process of economic growth, decline and growth. Image courtesy of Historic England, 2013: 9

The chart above shows are a number of heritage values in a former Royal Air Force site, communal, evidential, aesthetic and historic values are the main values that have emerged through the research for RAF Perton. Not to mention residential and environmental values that have importance depending on the site specifics, ‘there is evidence to suggest that historic buildings in residential use can command higher prices than new build’ (Historic England 2013: 11), it is no surprise that conversion of old military buildings on RAF sites is becoming more advantageous for planners. The data has shown how important socio-economic advantages are in determining if a site is ready for development and also. Image 38 above from Historic England’s diagrams lays out the process of economic growth, decline and then growth again. For redundant RAF sites the last column after new economic use is important, the new use could be anything from a farm, agricultural use to small industrial use all the way to usage like at RAF Perton, Hinstock and Lyneham a major development on the site.

The importance of this research into the current debate in the sector is expressed in the state of house building and the exit from the European Union and the effects on the construction, environmental and local government regulation that could have an impact once exit is completed. This is joined by a global problem of an expanding population; they need more homes and a greater infrastructure to support their needs. All of these aspects need to be taken up by the heritage sector in collaboration with other sectors from environmental to development. This will allow not only the economy to prosper, but it could see a greater focus on the environment through sustainable development and an increase in conservation areas.

 

 

 

Conclusions:

 

The aims of this paper are to critically analyse the current legislation for military aviation sites and their conservation, through analysis of Historic England and DCMS’s documents. It is clear that green space within these bases along with the historic built environment is the two strongest characteristics of any site to be conserved. Focused on the case study of RAF Perton, in South Staffordshire, image 36 is a photograph showing the airfield within the wider landscape took after the end of the Second World War and before the housing development for the ‘modern’ Perton started. This image helps to show the airfield is nearly completely covered by the modern housing estate of Perton, but the outbuildings and camp adjacent to it are still surviving, to the right of the picture.

 

 

Perton Ridge, now part of the City of Wolverhampton

 

 

 

Image 36 – Aerial image of Perton took in the 1970’s before the building of the new village on the former Second World site. Image courtesy of A, Brew (2009). 100 years of Wolverhampton’s airports

Development in all locations makes a lasting impression on the landscape; a new community can grow on the site and bring much needed socio-economic prosperity to the area. This is more pronounced in a military site where large acres of untouched greenbelt land are found. It is not surprising as available land becomes scarcer and the population continues to grow, Brownfield land and more importantly Greenbelt land will become even more attractive for development; to support new communities. Former military bases, especially Royal Air Force sites, are vulnerable to development encroaching onto its land or even conversion of former buildings into apartments, examples can be seen across the country and a regional example at RAF Hinstock in Shropshire, which had its rare WWII watch tower converted into a house and subsequently a bed and breakfast in 2004 brought much needed economic prosperity to the area, and one that through a strict conservation guideline and plan enabled the character of the site to be kept.

 

RAF Perton development:

On the site of Cranmoor Lodge Farm, all the previous development that has happened as of August 2016, has been largely nonintrusive and has helped bring life into a new area of the village; enabling positive social and economic effects for the owners and the local village, the sites geography has been shown in image 41. It has helped to ease the growing house shortage and help local business nearby to gain extra customers. With numerous waves of development in 2005, 2014 and 2015, the latter saw the ‘Conversion of redundant agricultural buildings to provide 4 dwellings, approved’ (Cranmoor Residents Association limited) these dwellings are now used to house a collection of horses and have altered the landscape and field patterns, but with minimal lasting effect, a sign of the diversification that has resulted from the development on the site.

_I _

Cranmoor Lodge Farm and surrounding buildings []
p<>{color:#000;}. The ‘Shed’, close to Wrottesley Park Road []
p<>{color:#000;}. The start of a another redevelopment near to the original farm mage 37. Satellite view of Wrottesley Wood and Staffordshire Way 2016. Image courtesy of googlemaps.co.uk
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The development and conversion of the derelict properties have had positive results on the evidential values of the area, brining a new lease of life and socio-economic benefits, as Historic England comments ‘There is evidence to suggest that historic buildings in residential use can command higher prices than new build. Furthermore, prices of modern apartments and houses can be enhanced by being in a neighbourhood of historic buildings’ (Historic England 2013:11), the views from the heritage sector and the documents published locally alongside them counter the authors worries over the state of the area once the homes have been built. But maybe it isn’t residential or communal values that will be tested but aesthetic and heritage in a nuance way will be affected. An example of this on the way to the farm is a monument that will is now derelict; commonly referred to as the ‘shed’, it was used to train bomb-aimers, who would be held in cradles suspended from the roof, with a rolling map of Dusseldorf (Germany) underneath. Shown in the photographic section of the data it shows the monument within the landscape, and its proximity to the development at Cranmoor Lodge Farm.

RAF Perton future developments:

The proposals in 2014 by South Staffordshire District Council of three plots of land for development in Perton, one which is adjacent to Wrottesley Park Road and is in view of the remaining buildings of RAF Perton. Since this date, the author has consulted with a number of policy documents and reports that shows the building of these new homes is a decision supported by the majority of the lawmakers and public bodies. Much of the disagreement over the amount of affordable homes and where the homes will be advertised to current Perton residents or have new people come from outside of the village, this issue is not new to Perton and is being seen elsewhere in villages across the country; with infilling and even extension of villages into previous farmland and greenbelt land. The answer to my interview with DCMS on the relationship between development and heritage, they answered; ‘decisions about whether or not to allow development near heritage sites must be weighed against the public benefit of the development’ (DCMS 2016 pers.com.) development can lead to the heritage and natural landscape being threatened, something that the local authorities in South Staffordshire are well aware of and their numerous documents published support this.

Image 38 on the next page is a Bird’s Eye view of the proposed site and its relation to previous development and the wider village. On the face of it the development on the field marked below looks unassuming and small, but it will be the first new houses build to the west of Wrottesley Park Road; the original Perton was limited to being built inside the newly created road. It will be the first new houses build on greenbelt land since the 1970’s and could set a precedent, as the other two plots earmarked in Perton whilst smaller also fill onto green belt land, if those plots are rejected (they are closer to current houses) the current site could be extended into more of the landscape.

Cranmoor Lodge Farm

 

 

Proposed site, adjacent to Golf Course

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image 38 – Birds eye view map of Wrottesley Park Road and the proposed new development. Image courtesy of google.co.uk/maps

 

The report was only concerned with RAF Perton, whilst this has been researched extensively with other case studies across the country mentioned, a greater analysis of South Staffordshire or even the County of Staffordshire could be completed in the future. Whilst there are no former RAF bases in the rest of South Staffordshire, a comparison with other heritage sites in the district, for example at Kinver Edge, Himley and Wombourne could be compared and analysed, especially with Perton one of the main service villages in the district having planned new homes being built. The Local Authority has conducted a conclusive analysis of the site of RAF Perton with the remains at Cranmoor Lodge and Wrottesley Wood, supported by what values and remains are left. The author feels recommendations laid out in the original HER 2011 and the Core Development Strategy 2012 reports should be implemented before any new development is accepted, and before all the heritage of the site is lost.

No individual views were collected for this report and the wider environmental impact in connection to Wrottesley Road, Dippon’s Lane and Bradshaw’s, not to mention Wrottesley Wood and Smiths Ridge were not sought. For future reference with a lack of research and scholarly debate into the village of Perton and RAF Perton’s recent development and future aspirations makes this study an important cornerstone for any future research on the village.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What effect does development have on the heritage value of former RAF bases in E

This book will be looking at the effect of development largely through house building and commercial units within a military context. This will be focused on the case study of RAF Perton, in South Staffordshire (West Midlands), a now redundant airfield and base and how from a perspective of today, conservation on this site can be achieved to allow the site and the surrounding landscape to be protected for generations to come. This analysis will be done through looking at the heritage values at this site and other RAF bases nationally. This dissertation is unique in its study of this site’s post war condition since its abandonment in 1947 and also the analysis from the developers on how development on a RAF site can be achieved whilst keeping the important heritage values that the site and the landscape have.

  • ISBN: 9781370474615
  • Author: Adam Freeman
  • Published: 2016-09-27 17:35:28
  • Words: 16024
What effect does development have on the heritage value of former RAF bases in E What effect does development have on the heritage value of former RAF bases in E