Famous Sussex airfield to be transformed with plans for new primary school alongside houses and 60-bed care home

The world’s ‘most famous intruder airfield’ is set to be transformed, with the West Sussex site earmarked for a major development.
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More than 1,000 houses and a 60-bed care home are set to be built – alongside a new primary school with sports pitches – on the former Ford Airfield.

Abri – one of the south’s largest housing providers – and Vistry Group – the UK’s leading mixed-tenure developer – have entered into a 50/50 joint venture to acquire the land.

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It comes nearly two years after the previous proposed developers for the site, Redrow Homes Southern Counties and Wates Developments Ltd, received outline planning permission for 1,500 homes.

More than 1,000 houses and a 60-bed care home are set to be built –  alongside a new primary school with sports pitches – on the former Ford Airfield.More than 1,000 houses and a 60-bed care home are set to be built –  alongside a new primary school with sports pitches – on the former Ford Airfield.
More than 1,000 houses and a 60-bed care home are set to be built –  alongside a new primary school with sports pitches – on the former Ford Airfield.

A spokesperson for the new developers said: “The major development will provide 50 per cent affordable housing, in a mix of shared ownership, first homes and rented tenures, with Ford Community Land Trust having first right of refusal on the affordable housing delivered via the section 106 agreement.

“The open-market homes will be sold using Vistry Group’s retail housebuilding brands Linden Homes, Bovis Homes and Countryside Homes.”

Alongside the new homes, the site will be ‘transformed to provide’ a 60-bed care home, a new local centre with commercial and retail uses, almost 1,500 square meters of new community and leisure space, land for a new primary school and extensive public open spaces including new sports pitches and allotments.

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The developers said £35m in section 106 contributions will be ‘invested into the local community’.

‘Significant funds’ will be allocated to Littlehampton Rugby Club, Climping Cricket pitch and a new sports hall in Angmering – ‘helping to improve local sports provision’, the developer said.

They added that approximately £1.8m will be allocated to healthcare provision to ‘support the new community’.

Gary Orr, group chief executive of Abri, said: “This transformative development will provide many hundreds of new, quality affordable homes, as well as new services and facilities for the local community.

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"By working in joint venture with Vistry, we’ve unlocked the full potential of the site, making sure it delivers the best outcomes for the community.

"We want to play our role tackling the nation’s housing crisis and Ford Airfield will contribute significantly to Abri’s commitment to build 10,000 homes by 2030, whilst we will reinvest any surplus to improve existing homes and services, invest in communities and continue to build more affordable housing.”

The disused airfield was in operation between 1918 and 1980.

A summary on the Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust UK website read: “Ford, the world’s most famous intruder airfield, originally opened in March 1918 for use by RAF and American squadrons prior to closing in January 1920.

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"The site reopened for civil flying ten years later, becoming involved in early air-to-air flight refuelling experiments, and resumed military aviation connections from the end of 1937.

"Fleet Air Arm training units primarily employed Ford into World War Two but their base suffered extremely heavy damage and loss of life following a ferocious attack by Junkers Ju 87s on August 18 1940.

"As a result the RAF quickly returned and Ford gained prominence in its best known role as various intruder squadrons – notably No 23 – roamed enemy-occupied territory to attack targets at will with considerable success.”

Stephen Teagle, chief executive of Countryside Partnerships (part of Vistry Group), said Ford Airfield ‘perfectly supports’ the developer’s strategy of delivering a ‘significant number of mixed-tenure homes’ with affordable housing partners.

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He added: “We have a well-established, long-term relationship with Abri.

"Through our joint venture, we’re able to increase the level of affordable housing across the whole site from the 30 per cent planning requirement to 50 per cent, which will have a major impact on West Sussex’s affordable housing supply.”

David Brocklebank, executive managing director of Wates Developments Group, said the company is ‘delighted to have completed the sale’ of this ‘ground-breaking’ neighbourhood planning led development at Ford.

He added: “We’re proud to have had the opportunity to create a high-quality, sustainable, multi-use residential development over a number of years, in consultation with local stakeholders, which will address the pressing need for housing, as well as foster a sense of community belonging and well-being.

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"This project underscores the power of constructive neighbourhood planning and collaborative efforts to develop this transformative project.”

The new homes will be built to Future Homes Standard, whilst ‘improvements to walking and cycle routes’ connecting the site to Ford Railway Station will be made – ‘enabling sustainable travel options’.

The spokesperson for the developers added: “New walking connections to the surrounding areas of Ford, Yapton and Climping will also be created, providing access to the River Arun and the surrounding countryside.

“A period of public consultation is set to commence this spring, with work expected to commence next year subject to planning approval.”

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