66 homes to be bulldozed at Menwith

Menwith Hill Early Warning base near Harrogate.  September 1, 2006.
Menwith Hill Early Warning base near Harrogate. September 1, 2006.

The Ministry of Defence has been told it does not need permission from Harrogate Borough Council to demolish houses at RAF Menwith Hill.

The MoD notified the council of plans to demolish 66 dwellings on the site near Darley which is used by the US military.

The proposals had sparked rumours in the local community that the operation at Menwith Hill was being downsized.

Squadron Leader Geoff Dickson, the RAF Commander for RAF Menwith Hill, said: “The housing demolition is a scheduled project to demolish older, inadequate housing that is simply becoming too expensive to maintain while adequate housing alternatives exist in the local community.”

When asked if there were fewer service personnel and their families living at the site, Mr Dickson responded: “For reasons of security, RAF Menwith Hill does not discuss precise numbers of personnel assigned or rumours of changes to those numbers.

“However, the workforce numbers approximately 1,600, of which one-third US civilians, one-third US military and one-third UK. Additionally, there are about 1,500 US dependents, although clearly that number can vary from time to time.”

In August, it was announced that Menwith Hill Elementary High School would close down in 2015.

The US military newspaper, Stars and Stripes, reported that enrolment at the school, which houses kindergarten through to 12th grade, had been on a downward trend for five years, and from August 2012 to August 2013 the school saw a 15 per cent decrease in enrolment.

RAF Menwith Hill was opened in 1960, and throughout the 1970s and 1980s the infrastructure and the number of personnel at the site continued to expand. The one-square-mile base is owned by the Ministry of Defence and made available to the US Department of Defense.