RAF Cosford expansion comes amid major development
The prospect of RAF Cosford's expansion into training engineers for the aviation industry comes amid an increasing focus on the potential for development in the surrounding area.
Currently Shropshire Council is investigating the possibility of allowing developers to create a new 3,000 home town on land at Tong, near to Cosford, and next to the M54.
The proposal, which comes under plans for what the council calls the 'M54 corridor', also includes around 50 hectares of employment land. It will go out to consultation later this year.
In reports outlining the plan, which has been put forward by land owner The Bradford Estates, council officers said the development would be related to RAF Cosford.
The report stated: "It is envisaged that any strategic employment offer in the M54 corridor would be strongly related to the intensification of engineering training at RAF Cosford and would be complementary, rather than competing with, that of neighbouring areas.
"The key objective for such a site would be to deliver supply chain opportunities and growth for companies in key sectors (including but not limited to engineering, advanced manufacturing, innovative healthcare and environmental technologies) as identified in the Shropshire Economic Growth Strategy."
The council has also said that homes in the area could count towards a shortfall in the number of houses being built by councils in the West Midlands.
The situation has arisen after the Association of Black Country Authorities (ABCA), which represents Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council, Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council, and Wolverhampton City Council, said they did not have enough space for new housing.
In a letter to neighbouring councils last year ABCA asked if land was available for development, with Shropshire Council indicating it would be happy to have discussions on the prospect – a decision then officially backed by the authority's cabinet last month.
Shropshire Council has also revealed that the MOD has asked for land to be released from the green belt for an "intensification" of use at RAF Cosford.
A council report considered by cabinet last month stated: "The M54 corridor is close to higher education and training institutions including key assets such as RAF Cosford which accommodates the RAF No.1 School of Technical Training.
"The recent national defence review has confirmed Cosford as a key Ministry of Defence asset. However, MOD consider that its potential to meet future operational defence requirements is restricted by its Green Belt location.
"To reflect this, MOD have asked Shropshire Council to release land in their ownership at Cosford from the Green Belt to provide for an intensification of their use of the site. It is very likely that such intensification will generate additional demand for employment land to support the relocation and growth of commercial companies in related sectors."