DEVELOPERS are 'passionate' about enhancing the historical value of a former US airbase in a village near Bicester, but there are concerns that character of the site may be lost.

Dorchester Living will convert the Cold War base in Upper Heyford, demolishing a hangar, bomb stores and hardened squadron HQ in the process.

It will have 1,175 homes, a primary school, social facilities and filming site dubbed a 'creative city'.

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Developers want to 'reinvigorate' the area while preserving the sites heritage, but there are some concerns that too much of the site will be destroyed, losing its character.

Bicester Local History Society member Matthew Hathaway who lives in Heyford Park, next to where the next phase of development will take place, said: "As I live on the site I do see the development going up around me and realise that the building I'm in is one of the ever dwindling list of old buildings they are keeping.

"From a heritage point of view, they have worked well to preserve the old structures that will be remaining and the museum that has been set up in one of the old buildings is a nice way of telling the story of the site.

"But a lot of buildings have already been demolished and there seem to be many more still to go and I worry that, even though the hangars and runway are largely untouched, the character of the site will be lost in a way that no amount of guided tours or museum displays will be able to replicate."

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He says the project is similar to the redevelopment of Old Place Yard, in Bicester where both the recent redevelopment and what was done in the 1960s kept the old dovecote and built around it.

He added: "Keeping the dovecote was obviously better than demolishing it (which they almost did in the 60s), but by building around it they destroyed the character and any sense of it being a historic site.

"We can't live in the past, and it is better to redevelop a brownfield site than to chew up more of the open countryside, but it is a shame that we have to sacrifice what Historic England considers to be one of our finest Cold War sites."

Apart from ex-US servicemen who visit the area every now and then, the 12,000 acre site which will be redeveloped is not used often.

Dorchester Living CEO Paul Silver says it is better to repurpose buildings and redevelop the historical site as opposed to leaving it to become mothballed.

He said: "We don't want to recreate the old, we want to refurbish the old.When people see layers of history, it is much better represented.

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"We're opening a recreation park all the way up to the runway where for the first time members of the public will be able to walk right up to the runway. Heritage shouldn't be shut behind doors with cob webs, it should be enjoyed."