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Regeneration plans ‘no longer viable’ if RAF Scampton converted into migrant centre

Further plans to transform RAF Scampton into a £300m cultural heritage centre have been unveiled, despite doubts over whether it’s realistic. Scampton Holdings Ltd aims to redevelop the Dambusters’ former home, though plans to convert the site into a migrant processing facility may have scuppered the idea.

The Home Office is currently working to transform the base into a migrant camp with 2,000 residents by the end of 2023. Though a recent announcement by Labour leader Keir Starmer that he would scrap the plans has led to renewed confidence in the project, the company has said the scheme ‘can no longer take place’ if the facility opens.

A spokesperson from the company wrote: “Since winning the public tender to redevelop the site, the Home Office has decided to cancel the sale to West Lindsey District Council (and hence to Scampton Holdings Limited) and use RAF Scampton to house upwards of 2,000 single male migrants for up to three years or more.

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“As it currently stands, this means that [the company] will not be able to deliver the planned redevelopment and that the plans contained in this brief – which formed the basis of our public tender win – can no longer take place.”

However, newly released plans offer a glimpse of what could come. The £300m scheme involves setting up the UK’s first Red Arrows visitor centre, a heritage trail, and a ‘living aviation’ museum, which is expected to draw in up to 200,000 visitors per year.



Former RAF Scampton entrance and protestors on Tuesday, October 10
Former RAF Scampton entrance and protestors on Tuesday, October 10

Various universities and colleges from the East Midlands are also exploring opportunities to set up off-campus hubs at RAF Scampton. Two hotels would also be constructed.

The first, a three-star establishment oriented towards families, will align with the heritage trail and will be situated within the three H blocks. The latter, a luxurious four-to-five-star hotel, will find its place in the officer’s mess, catering primarily to the site’s commercial visitors.

At the heart of the redevelopment is the A46 Midlands Aerospace Corridor, which would span several counties. Stretching from Warwick and Coventry universities, encompassing the Leicester Space Park, extending through ASI at Newark, and reaching the University of Lincoln and RAF Scampton before culminating at Immingham Docks and the Humber industrial area, the corridor promises to be a nexus of aerospace innovation and enterprise.

A similar £100 million space park development for the University of Leicester has already made £89 million of economic impact in its first year of operation, according to the firm’s research.

Continued maintenance of restricted airspace would ensure that the base remains operational for the Red Arrows. Additionally, existing structures surrounding the parade square at Scampton are earmarked for restoration and repurposing. The objective is to carve out a collaborative hub for budding enterprises, possibly extending the scope of the current Lincoln Science and Innovation Park.

If the Home Office goes ahead, there are fears that investors will look elsewhere. Additionally, if the buildings on-site are unoccupied, with migrants being housed in portacabins, then they could ‘rapidly deteriorate’.

Despite these challenges, West Lindsey District Council remains defiant in its commitment to the regeneration plan. A judicial review is set for October 31 and November 1 at the High Court in London.

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