Linton on Ouse: Future of ex RAF base uncertain after asylum seeker u-turn as MOD say it could keep control beyond 2024
The Ministry of Defence (MOD) began closing the base at RAF Linton on Ouse in 2020, with just a handful of military personnel now remaining on site.
In March this year it offered the base to the Home Office to use as “surge” asylum seeker accommodation, and the Government announced in April that it would be the first Greek-style asylum processing centre in the country.
But following a four month battle from campaigners including the threat of legal action from Hambleton District Council, Ben Wallace announced this week he had withdrawn the offer of the site to the Home Office.
Plans for the site to be completely decommissioned by 2024 were derailed by the shock announcement, the Yorkshire Post understands, with the MOD now set to retain control of the site for at least the next two years.
An MOD source said they anticipated a delay to the full disposal of the site, with the revised plans set to be announced once ministers have had time to consider options.
A Government spokesperson said: “The government is steadfastly committed to tackling illegal migration and stopping dangerous small boat crossings.
“The government will continue to identify appropriate sites for Greek-style asylum reception centres which will play a key role in reducing the number of asylum seekers in hotels which cost the taxpayer more than £5 million each day.”
The 680 acre site was set to house up to 1500 lone men while their asylum claims were processed.
In recent years it had been predominantly used to provide fast jet pilot training, but in 2019 the RAF began using a base on Anglesey in Wales instead.
Speaking on Tuesday, Ben Wallace said: “I have withdrawn the offer to the Home Office for that site.
“It’s been with them for a number of months. I have obligations to do something else with that site, and you know there are other sites we made available to the Home Office if they wish to take it up.”
Leader of Hambleton District Council Mark Robson said he hoped the site may still find military use.
He told the Yorkshire Post: “I’d like it to go back to an RAF base, there was a lot of money spent on it not so many years ago.
“You’ve got to be careful what you wish for. Clearly for an asylum centre, it wasn’t the right place, even though I think the [Greek style centres] are the right plan.
“But from a commercial point of view, when it was an RAF base, it brought a lot of money into the local economy.”
It comes as Annington, the developers of ex military housing next to the base said the first phase of three-bedroom homes for sale had been snapped up, mostly by first time buyers.