RAF Daws Hill bunker set to be demolished

Bucks Free Press: The entrance to RAF Daws Hill The entrance to RAF Daws Hill

THE redundant bunker complex at RAF Daws Hill will be demolished before the summer is out, subject to council consent.

The Ministry of Defence has written to Wycombe District Council seeking permission to bulldoze the bunker which includes a warehouse, a building hosting a generator, a tanks building and office facilities.

The complex would be returned to Wycombe Abbey School as grass under the plan, which the MoD hopes to execute over the spring/summer period.

RAF Daws Hill was sold to developer Taylor Wimpey in August but the firm leased back some of the 67 bungalows to the MoD until September this year to give the remaining service personnel time to move out (see links).

The 20 hectare site was used as a base for visiting American forces but had been mainly used for storage purposes in recent years.

The MoD is disposing of land it no longer requires and "this [sale] made good business sense for defence operations and to the taxpayer."

A spokesman for the Defence Infrastructure Organisation added: "We took the decision to sell this land and properties to significantly increase the value of the site.

"Personnel and their families have been consulted. The MoD has kept these personnel at the centre of our planning and they are being offered suitable alternative accommodation and financial assistance to move.

"The MOD has a duty to maximise the receipts from disposal of surplus land and property.

"This is good estate management and these funds help offset the cost of operations, and reduce the burden on the taxpayer.

"Our detailed study of the site led us to conclude that the whole of the base should be disposed of; given that the requirement for service homes there is predicted to reduce in the long term and the retention of the properties would significantly reduce the value of the land due to planning constraints."

The RAF Daws Hill sell off and the demolition of the bunker are two seperate projects, the MoD confirmed.

Comments (14)

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7:06am Fri 16 Mar 12

wayneo says...

In my opinion and if the development at terriers is anything to go by, we'll be seeing another load of muck from Taylor Wimpey. At least with Shanley's they try to blend the development into the local surroundings.
In my opinion and if the development at terriers is anything to go by, we'll be seeing another load of muck from Taylor Wimpey. At least with Shanley's they try to blend the development into the local surroundings. wayneo

4:16pm Fri 16 Mar 12

Maria135 says...

Following on from Wayneo's comments, if the Terriers site is anything to go by there will be too many homes with way too few parking spaces. A 2 bedroom flat will usually house 2 people with cars, but only one parking space is allocated - do your maths. The Daws Hill site is huge - what is being proposed for the additional traffic which will be generated along this stretch of road and surrounding roads?
Following on from Wayneo's comments, if the Terriers site is anything to go by there will be too many homes with way too few parking spaces. A 2 bedroom flat will usually house 2 people with cars, but only one parking space is allocated - do your maths. The Daws Hill site is huge - what is being proposed for the additional traffic which will be generated along this stretch of road and surrounding roads? Maria135

9:13am Sat 17 Mar 12

Brian Loxley says...

Yet again the district forget the legacy left by the 54,000 men of the American Air Force during WW2 by bulldozing over what could be a fine heritage site and a fine museum. And why not incorporate it with a historical record and memorial to the 55,000 boys from Bomber Command....!!!!!
Yet again the district forget the legacy left by the 54,000 men of the American Air Force during WW2 by bulldozing over what could be a fine heritage site and a fine museum. And why not incorporate it with a historical record and memorial to the 55,000 boys from Bomber Command....!!!!! Brian Loxley

9:14am Sat 17 Mar 12

Brian Loxley says...

Yet again the district forget the legacy left by the 54,000 men of the American Air Force during WW2 by bulldozing over what could be a fine heritage site and a fine museum. And why not incorporate it with a historical record and memorial to the 55,000 boys from Bomber Command....!!!!!
Yet again the district forget the legacy left by the 54,000 men of the American Air Force during WW2 by bulldozing over what could be a fine heritage site and a fine museum. And why not incorporate it with a historical record and memorial to the 55,000 boys from Bomber Command....!!!!! Brian Loxley

9:14am Sat 17 Mar 12

Brian Loxley says...

Yet again the district forget the legacy left by the 54,000 men of the American Air Force during WW2 by bulldozing over what could be a fine heritage site and a fine museum. And why not incorporate it with a historical record and memorial to the 55,000 boys from Bomber Command....!!!!!
Yet again the district forget the legacy left by the 54,000 men of the American Air Force during WW2 by bulldozing over what could be a fine heritage site and a fine museum. And why not incorporate it with a historical record and memorial to the 55,000 boys from Bomber Command....!!!!! Brian Loxley

9:15am Sat 17 Mar 12

Brian Loxley says...

Yet again the district forget the legacy left by the 54,000 men of the American Air Force during WW2 by bulldozing over what could be a fine heritage site and a fine museum. And why not incorporate it with a historical record and memorial to the 55,000 boys from Bomber Command....!!!!!
Yet again the district forget the legacy left by the 54,000 men of the American Air Force during WW2 by bulldozing over what could be a fine heritage site and a fine museum. And why not incorporate it with a historical record and memorial to the 55,000 boys from Bomber Command....!!!!! Brian Loxley

9:16am Sat 17 Mar 12

Brian Loxley says...

Yet again the district forget the legacy left by the 54,000 men of the American Air Force during WW2 by bulldozing over what could be a fine heritage site and a fine museum. And why not incorporate it with a historical record and memorial to the 55,000 boys from Bomber Command....!!!!!
Yet again the district forget the legacy left by the 54,000 men of the American Air Force during WW2 by bulldozing over what could be a fine heritage site and a fine museum. And why not incorporate it with a historical record and memorial to the 55,000 boys from Bomber Command....!!!!! Brian Loxley

10:25am Sat 17 Mar 12

wayneo says...

Brian Loxley wrote:
Yet again the district forget the legacy left by the 54,000 men of the American Air Force during WW2 by bulldozing over what could be a fine heritage site and a fine museum. And why not incorporate it with a historical record and memorial to the 55,000 boys from Bomber Command....!!!!!
This country doesn't do history, one only has to look at Taylor Wipey and their other developments, West Malling, Taylor Wimpey were trying to get their hands on the last remaining part of Hawkinge aerodrome so that they could build houses on it. Horrid Company and their houses in my opinion look gash.
[quote][p][bold]Brian Loxley[/bold] wrote: Yet again the district forget the legacy left by the 54,000 men of the American Air Force during WW2 by bulldozing over what could be a fine heritage site and a fine museum. And why not incorporate it with a historical record and memorial to the 55,000 boys from Bomber Command....!!!!![/p][/quote]This country doesn't do history, one only has to look at Taylor Wipey and their other developments, West Malling, Taylor Wimpey were trying to get their hands on the last remaining part of Hawkinge aerodrome so that they could build houses on it. Horrid Company and their houses in my opinion look gash. wayneo

3:02pm Sat 17 Mar 12

ex-wycombe says...

I worked as an apprentice electrician at Dawes Hill during 1960 in the bunker then known as "the hole". It was the HQ for the U.S. Strategic Air Command and it is an insult to the US airmen that were lost in the bombing raids over Germany in WW2 if it is demolished. It should be retained as a museum and memorial to the US Air Force in High Wycombe.
I worked as an apprentice electrician at Dawes Hill during 1960 in the bunker then known as "the hole". It was the HQ for the U.S. Strategic Air Command and it is an insult to the US airmen that were lost in the bombing raids over Germany in WW2 if it is demolished. It should be retained as a museum and memorial to the US Air Force in High Wycombe. ex-wycombe

8:58pm Sat 17 Mar 12

Plus ça change... says...

We turf over so much of our heritage that we'll run out of turf.
We turf over so much of our heritage that we'll run out of turf. Plus ça change...

12:08pm Tue 27 Mar 12

rob@rafdawshill.org.uk says...

Like other comments above I'm very much opposed to this demolition request. I understand the legal obligation to demolish the surface features prior to the site being handed back but common sense should prevail to protect this very historic unique site. I for one will be objecting to this and any future application. If you want to help or can provide me any further historic information regarding the site please email me at rob@rafdawshill.org.
uk
Like other comments above I'm very much opposed to this demolition request. I understand the legal obligation to demolish the surface features prior to the site being handed back but common sense should prevail to protect this very historic unique site. I for one will be objecting to this and any future application. If you want to help or can provide me any further historic information regarding the site please email me at rob@rafdawshill.org. uk rob@rafdawshill.org.uk

11:40am Fri 6 Apr 12

jamesfox says...

The bunker at Daws Hill was built in the 1940s as part of our WWII Defences, it was handed to the USAF as their centre of operations and was in those early days a spectacular building with a massive Central Map Room on two levels. However in the 1980's it was totally rebuilt as a Cold War facility for the USAF. The central map room was floored over and all the original features were removed during the modernisation. This means that today there is really nothing worth preserving as it is just an empty concrete box. The other problem is that if it is preserved somebody will have to pay for it, and bunkers like this are very expensive to maintain. The cost of electricity alone can exceed £10,000 a year just to ventilate them. So possibly the best course pf action would be to document and record the site with a photographic survey, and then remove all the surface buildings (which are 1980's anyway) and demolish the remainder. There are already several Ex WWII and Cold War Bunkers open to visitors in the UK, and short of finding somebody with a huge amount of money, overcoming all the planning and safety issues, and then getting permisison from the landowners, there would seem little option other than to demolish. It is also well worth noting that these places are a magnet for vandals, security is a major and costly problem, and if the site were trashed it would become a massive safety liability for whoever ends up owning it, and it would seem totrallky unreeasonable for anyone to expect Wycome Abbey School to take on such a liability.
The bunker at Daws Hill was built in the 1940s as part of our WWII Defences, it was handed to the USAF as their centre of operations and was in those early days a spectacular building with a massive Central Map Room on two levels. However in the 1980's it was totally rebuilt as a Cold War facility for the USAF. The central map room was floored over and all the original features were removed during the modernisation. This means that today there is really nothing worth preserving as it is just an empty concrete box. The other problem is that if it is preserved somebody will have to pay for it, and bunkers like this are very expensive to maintain. The cost of electricity alone can exceed £10,000 a year just to ventilate them. So possibly the best course pf action would be to document and record the site with a photographic survey, and then remove all the surface buildings (which are 1980's anyway) and demolish the remainder. There are already several Ex WWII and Cold War Bunkers open to visitors in the UK, and short of finding somebody with a huge amount of money, overcoming all the planning and safety issues, and then getting permisison from the landowners, there would seem little option other than to demolish. It is also well worth noting that these places are a magnet for vandals, security is a major and costly problem, and if the site were trashed it would become a massive safety liability for whoever ends up owning it, and it would seem totrallky unreeasonable for anyone to expect Wycome Abbey School to take on such a liability. jamesfox

1:30pm Tue 10 Apr 12

rob@rafdawshill.org.uk says...

James,

As a key person involved with the preservation of the RAF Holmpton bunker I’m surprised by your attitude to this site, especially as you’ve had some involvement with it. Yes the site was extensively modified in the 80’s but it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be preserved. You say it’s just a concrete box but what bunker isn’t? This site has evolved from WWII to the Cold War with various changes along the way, but this doesn’t change its history, significance and the story it has to tell.

I also don’t see why the site has to be expensive to maintain either. It has sat as it is now for many many years and following a conversation I had with English Heritage last week they tell me it’s in very good condition internally. There is currently no electricity connected so £10,000 a year seems unlikely and it also has the potential to be commercially viable as a data centre or for secure document storage like the bunker in Henley on Thames or Warren Row. It also has had no problem with vandalism and will be well within the schools site when handed back so I can’t see why this shouldn’t continue too.

I believe the school and the MOD have a duty to preserve this site that has several potential futures that don’t revolve around a knee jerk reaction in wiping it off the map.

Rob
James, As a key person involved with the preservation of the RAF Holmpton bunker I’m surprised by your attitude to this site, especially as you’ve had some involvement with it. Yes the site was extensively modified in the 80’s but it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be preserved. You say it’s just a concrete box but what bunker isn’t? This site has evolved from WWII to the Cold War with various changes along the way, but this doesn’t change its history, significance and the story it has to tell. I also don’t see why the site has to be expensive to maintain either. It has sat as it is now for many many years and following a conversation I had with English Heritage last week they tell me it’s in very good condition internally. There is currently no electricity connected so £10,000 a year seems unlikely and it also has the potential to be commercially viable as a data centre or for secure document storage like the bunker in Henley on Thames or Warren Row. It also has had no problem with vandalism and will be well within the schools site when handed back so I can’t see why this shouldn’t continue too. I believe the school and the MOD have a duty to preserve this site that has several potential futures that don’t revolve around a knee jerk reaction in wiping it off the map. Rob rob@rafdawshill.org.uk

7:26am Wed 11 Apr 12

jamesfox says...

Many thanks for your response. The point I am making is that the bunker has nothing at all left of it's original structure, it was totally rebuilt in the 1980's and at that time all of the original historic interior was removed. As for costs, you need to understand that power will have to be re-connected and that alone could involve major costs. Then rates will be applied to the site and a use will need to be found for it. At the same time if it is to be used for anything there will need to be a consistent maintenance programme and that all costs money. The School I am sure would regard this as a liability. The site was requisitioned from them by the old War Office, it has been somewhat of a thorn ever since, and the requisition terms originally promised to return the site 'as before' at the end of the requisition term. There is no insult intended vto the men of 'Bomber Command' they gave their service and their lives 'In the Air' not in a bunker, and I am sure they will never be forgotten. As for any commercial use the use of bunkers for data centres has passed, even the major operators in the UK are now moving back to the surface due to the huge costs involved. The sites you refer to at Warren Row and Henley upon Thames are both massive underground sites that would make the site at Daws Hill look small. Both those sites have been the subject of massive expenditure, and the bunker at RAF Holompton, to which you refer, has also been the subject of over £3million expenditure over the last 10 years, just to keep it maintained, at the bunker at RAF Holmpton has never been out of use in it's entire life, whereas Daws Hill has stood empty since 1991/2. I personally have nothing against preservation, but the one point that everyone misses is the cost, and who is going to pay and who is going to go on paying in the years ahead. If you can answer that question then there could be hope for Daws Hill - You are of course very welcome to visit RAF Holmpton at any time and I can show you at first hand just what is involved in the preservation of these places - James.
Many thanks for your response. The point I am making is that the bunker has nothing at all left of it's original structure, it was totally rebuilt in the 1980's and at that time all of the original historic interior was removed. As for costs, you need to understand that power will have to be re-connected and that alone could involve major costs. Then rates will be applied to the site and a use will need to be found for it. At the same time if it is to be used for anything there will need to be a consistent maintenance programme and that all costs money. The School I am sure would regard this as a liability. The site was requisitioned from them by the old War Office, it has been somewhat of a thorn ever since, and the requisition terms originally promised to return the site 'as before' at the end of the requisition term. There is no insult intended vto the men of 'Bomber Command' they gave their service and their lives 'In the Air' not in a bunker, and I am sure they will never be forgotten. As for any commercial use the use of bunkers for data centres has passed, even the major operators in the UK are now moving back to the surface due to the huge costs involved. The sites you refer to at Warren Row and Henley upon Thames are both massive underground sites that would make the site at Daws Hill look small. Both those sites have been the subject of massive expenditure, and the bunker at RAF Holompton, to which you refer, has also been the subject of over £3million expenditure over the last 10 years, just to keep it maintained, at the bunker at RAF Holmpton has never been out of use in it's entire life, whereas Daws Hill has stood empty since 1991/2. I personally have nothing against preservation, but the one point that everyone misses is the cost, and who is going to pay and who is going to go on paying in the years ahead. If you can answer that question then there could be hope for Daws Hill - You are of course very welcome to visit RAF Holmpton at any time and I can show you at first hand just what is involved in the preservation of these places - James. jamesfox

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