Rougham airfield to shut in May

Residents of Rougham airfield, located three miles east of Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, have been given notice to quit ahead of the impending closure of the site.  

Rougham Estates, which owns the airfield, has written to residents to inform them that the airfield’s license will not be renewed. Simon Eddell, Rougham Estates manager, emphasised this decision had been reached “because of increased costs of insuring, running and maintaining the active airfield”.

Formerly known as RAF Bury St Edmunds, the airfield was built during 1941 and 1942 and saw extensive use during the Second World War. Assigned as a United States Army Air Force (USAAF) station, it was used by the USAAF Eighth Force and designated Station 468 (BU). The site was transferred to the Air Ministry in September 1946. Although the three concrete runways were broken up following military withdrawal in 1948, two grass runways have served civilian users since.

A West Sussex Local Plan from October 2020 summarised that the flight training school serves “a very small portion of the community,” recommending that “the current allocation is no longer suitable for the Site” and that the “current use [is] only accessible to a limited number of people who have the economic means to use the airfield for flying”.

The Local Plan also stated that “the site at Rougham Airfield can provide circa 1500 market and affordable homes, alongside new community benefits and infrastructure.” Exempt from this redevelopment strategy are the Rougham Control Tower and radar building, situated to the south of the site, which both have Grade 2 listed status.

Among the organisations by the impending closure are Skyward Flight Training (who have been based onsite since 2014), Suffolk Kite Flyers and Bury Model Flying Club.

A letter to all tenants explained that all light aircraft on the property must be removed by 31 May, and Rougham Estates confirmed that “beyond this date, [they] will no longer be maintaining the airstrip for aircraft”. Simon Eddell explained: “Our plan is that the land will revert to farmland and we will farm it like it was before it went back to being a runway.

Author: FTN Editor

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