Archaeologists undertake further studies at Bourn Airfield

Countryside, the award-winning developer that is promoting a new settlement at Bourn Airfield, has announced that archaeologists will be on the site from Monday 6 August, undertaking further archaeological studies following preliminary assessment.

Archaeologists from Oxford Archaeology East, who currently run their business from the airfield are anticipated to commence fieldwork on the Airfield site in August, digging over 225 trenches spread across the whole site. The method and extent of the ground works have been designed by Countryside’s archaeology and heritage consultants RPS in collaboration with Cambridgeshire County Council’s Historic Environment Team, who will also review the findings.

Andrew Taylor, Director and Head of Planning at Countryside, said,

“We are undertaking this extensive archaeological research to inform our planning application and ensure that our masterplan for the site has due consideration to the archaeological heritage of the land.”

“This research forms part of a substantial number of environmental studies that have been undertaken to inform our design approach. We want to ensure that the Bourn Airfield development not only minimises environmental impacts but makes a positive contribution to social, environmental and heritage issues.”

Historically the site was agricultural from the late medieval period until the Second World War. Following requisition by the Ministry of Defence, an extensive complex of structures was built across the site to house RAF Bomber Command from 1940 to 1948. The vast majority of taxiways, pill boxes, hangars, barracks, air-raid shelters and ancillary buildings were demolished when the land was returned to farming use, however the 3 runways remain visible today. Due to the military history of the site, the trenching works will be carefully overseen by unexploded ordinance specialists to ensure safety throughout the programme.

Preliminary studies undertaken on the Bourn Airfield site have identified the area as having high archaeological potential but remains could be severely affected by subsequent impact from the construction of the airfields and subsequent agricultural activity. The trial trenching works commencing in August are designed to explore the potential further. If evidence of findings of interest are found during this stage, further work may be required to either fully excavate the site(s) of interest or preserve the remains in situ, which will be determined at the time of a planning application for the development of the site.

Countryside is experienced in facilitating archaeological fieldwork on their development sites. Notably remains from the Bronze, Iron and Roman Ages were identified in the early stages of investigation at their site at north west Bury St Edmunds. The extensive excavation work that followed unearthed artefacts dating back over 4,000 years and shed new light on prehistoric activity in the area which was previously unknown. The Roman enclosure identified was preserved in situ and designated as open space within the scheme to ensure no damage was caused by the construction of the development. Countryside and Suffolk Archaeology were delighted by the interest in the fieldwork from the surrounding community and set up a volunteer project to give members of the public a chance to excavate and process the findings, as well as conducting four successful open days with over 1000 visitors.

Bourn Airfield is a 270-hectare site, between Cambourne and Highfields Caldecote, just 10 miles from Cambridge City Centre.  A former World War II Airfield, the site is currently farmed alongside a mix of commercial uses and a recreational flying club.

The site has been allocated by South Cambridgeshire District Council in the emerging Local Plan for the development of a new settlement, which provides the potential for:

  • A new village of 3,500 new homes, providing a mix of housing types and size;
  • A village centre to include shops, services and leisure opportunities;
  • Community services to include new health facilities, two primary schools and a secondary school;
  • Open space, sports and leisure facilities;
  • Strategic landscaping to deliver a high quality landscaped setting around the boundary of the settlement and the retention of existing woods, hedges and water features; and
  • Excellence in sustainable development and healthier living.

In March 2018, some 350 residents, parish councillors and other stakeholders attended a public exhibition that was held over successive dates in Cambourne centre and on the Bourn Airfield site

Information about the plans and an opportunity to comment is available on a dedicated project website – www.bournairfield.co.uk.

ENDS

For more information, contact Wyn Evans/ Jodie Levy on 020 8786 6130

A photograph of the existing Bourn Airfield site is available here.

An aerial sketch image showing the proposed neighbourhood centre is available here.

Historical aerial photo from 1945 of the site at Bourn is available here.