USAF homes bid welcomed

A housing association last night welcomed US Air Force plans to build 590 homes for its personnel in East Anglia, saying it could "dampen demand and keep prices down".

A housing association last night welcomed US Air Force plans to build 590 homes for its personnel in East Anglia, saying it could "dampen demand and keep prices down".

A housing analysis carried out by the USAF into its personnel's demand for homes around RAF Mildenhall and RAF Lakenheath revealed a shortfall of 590 units.

Although some personnel live on the bases, many rent or buy on the open market and First Lieutenant Augustine Ekpoudom of RAF Lakenheath said the USAF needed more homes under its control.

He said: "When there are housing needs the military cannot provide for, people get allowances to buy or rent in the local community.


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"The number of personnel is not going to rise, but we would like to provide air force-controlled housing for a larger proportion of our personnel.

"We prefer to have housing from our military housing unit, which saves people having to search for homes when they arrive in a new country."

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He stressed that the housing needs would not be met by the £110m Liberty Village scheme, which will see 600 houses on RAF Lakenheath demolished and rebuilt.

"Because it is just a matter of replacing these homes it will not actually add to the number of houses we have," said Lt Ekpoudom.

The bases plan to approach housing developers and encourage them to bid for the contract to create the homes. The USAF will then take control of the leases for ten years before passing control back to the developer.

Forest Heath District Council heard a report on the housing deficit last night and although no decisions were made on how the homes could be provided, they will work with the airbases to finalise plans by summer.

Martin Aust, operations director of strategic development at housing association Flagship Housing, welcomed the plans.

"As a housing association we are very concerned about affordability of homes in Forest Heath and how expensive it has become," he said.

"The USAF providing extra homes for their forces is a good thing because it means these people will not be competing with other buyers and driving up prices.

"Forest Heath is within the Government's Cambridge growth area. Geographically that area is going to experience significant demographic growth that will require more housing.

"In 10 years' time, if the military lease comes to an end and the homes are put on the market it can only have a positive impact. Anything that means demand is dampened in a growth area can only keep prices down and help the buyer."

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