RAF Upper Heyford : the Cold War Airbase

ACTA was lead consultant in the preparation of a conservation plan for the Cold War airbase at RAF Upper Heyford, which has buildings and features of international significance for military history and is the most complete surviving airbase for the USAF's F111s.

Working closely with Cherwell District Council, the North Oxfordshire Consortium and English Heritage the consultancy team identified the minimum level of features that should be retained to maintain the significance of the site, while taking into account development proposals, views and aspirations of local communities and the nature conservation interest. The plan established the functional and administrative relationships between the elements of the airfield and the relative significance of the different sectors of a very large site.

The analysis was supported by a detailed gazetteer of all buildings and structures. There was a full analysis of the visual relationships between the major buildings and open spaces together with a study of the relationship between the airbase and the surrounding landscape.

The conservation plan minimized the differences between the organisations involved in redevelopment of the site, but a public inquiry was necessary and Philip Masters of ACTA was English Heritage's landscape expert witness.

Client: Cherwell District Council, North Oxfordshire Consortium, English Heritage


There are a large number of temporary uses on the site, some of which are very intrusive. In the area shown a buffer was needed between the retained significant buildings in the north and the area to the south which could be redeveloped.




The shelters for the F111s hardened by a thick skin of reinforced concrete dominate the airfield. One of the central issues in the conservation plan was the extent to which they should be safeguarded collectively as a landscape rather than individual buildings.