RAF Bentwaters

RAF Bentwaters developed from a bomber airfield that was hastily constructed late in the Second World War to one of the USAF's most important tactical fighter bomber bases during the Cold War. It was home to the A10 fighter bombers from 1978 to 1993, when the base closed. Since 2001 the former air force buildings have been brought into a wide range of commercial and industrial uses. The local authority requested a planning application, supported by an environmental statement, to regularise the uses and ACTA prepared a conservation statement and heritage impact statement as part of this work.

The significances of the major structures retained from the 1940s such as the Type 2 hangars and control tower were established, together with the operational buildings such as the hardened aircraft shelters and bomb stores. The extensive former technical and service areas were identified as being of lower significance, with the capacity to absorb many present-day uses.

Identifying significance allows long-term decisions about future use of, and modification to, buildings to be made. Wall art, often derived from the style of 1980s graphic comics is on display in several places at Bentwaters and needs specialist conservation.

Hardened aircraft hangars are one of the most significant features of the later stages of Cold War airfields and are suitable for new storage and light industrial uses without altering their character or setting. Bentwaters has an excellent grouping of them. One of the conservation statement issues was the extent to which external storage would affect their setting.

The bomb stores with their hardened control post remain intact, down to the posts and wires put up to prevent helicopter attacks.