County council highways officials are looking into the feasibility of proposals being put forward by the RAF and Ministry of Defence to close off a section of public road that passes by RAF College Cranwell for security reasons.
According to minutes of April’s annual parish meeting at Cranwell, the RAF station’s representative to the parish, Wing Commander Philip Mann gave a brief history of RAF College Cranwell, uts present purpose and its future with the relocation of the Basic Recruit Training School and Airman Command School, moving from RAF Halton to RAF College Cranwell.
He explained this change will present new challenges, especially with the increased safeguarding concerns of how the RAF manage the welfare of recruits aged under 18.
The Wing Commander stated that additional fencing may be needed and aired the possibility of closing public access to pass along the B1429 Cranwell Avenue between where it joins the A17 at Byard’s Leap and up to the current guardroom.
It was stated that this would require major consultation with Lincolnshire County Council and local residents.
The route is regularly used as a traffic diversion by police during serious collisions on the A17 and the closure would potentially limit access routes for parents travelling to Cranwell primary School which is located close to the RAF camp. The road closure would also not limit public roads which skirt the other sides of the airfield including the A17 and Main Street, which passes the new High-G centrifuge training facility.
An MOD spokesperson told The Standard: “RAF Cranwell’s expansion is part of the Defence Estate Optimisation Programme. Assessment of the expansion is expected to begin in early 2020.
“Until the project assessment study has taken place, it is too early to tell the level of impact the site expansion would have.”
The MOD adds that any potential changes made to the area would be subject to approval from the local authority who preserve access to public areas.
Lincolnshire County Councillor Richard Davies, executive member for highways, said: “With RAF Cranwell set to expand in the coming years, the Ministry of Defence is proposing to close a section of the B1429 to ensure the base remains secure.
“We’re currently collecting traffic data and speaking to the local community so we can understand the potential impact this would have on the area.
“This will give us a better idea of the types of improvements that might be needed on the surrounding roads, if the MOD do decide to go ahead with the closure.”
Local District Councillor for the Cranwell area, Steve Clegg said he has been aware for several months of residents’ concerns about the possible closure of a section of the B1429.
He said: “On Monday I attended a Parish Council meeting when representatives of Lincolnshire County Council reported on exploratory discussions between themselves and the RAF regarding the matter. To date the focus is on what the RAF may wish to do, and what the potential impact any closure might mean for local residents and businesses.
“I believe the RAF has not so far contacted NKDC. Therefore, I cannot comment in detail on what their plans might entail, although I understand they are looking at options for improving security at the base. These plans are at a very early stage, and no decisions have been taken. So I see my role as continuing to listen to residents and to gather more information as it emerges. However, I would like to reassure the community of Cranwell that I will convey any concerns or comments they have to the relevant organisations.”