Swords to ploughshares

Upper Heyford was one of the largest US Air Force (USAF) bases in Europe during the Cold War and, until its closure in 1993, was a key strategic facility for NATO defences against the USSR.

The USAF’s rapid departure left the infrastructure more or less intact, so preserving a unique insight into this critical period of modern history. The site has consequently been designated a Conservation Area and some of the military structures have been scheduled.

The base was a microcosm of American life, with spacious family housing, a hospital and school, and essentials such as a bowling alley, baseball pitches and a gas station selling fuel in US gallons. When the base was acquired for development into a new residential neighbourhood, we saw the potential to use the generous scale and character the Americans had left to create a distinctive new living environment. Our proposals used the strong geometric patterns of the original Trenchard layout, and preserved formal spaces such as the Parade Ground.


North Oxford Consortium

New neighbourhood

Site area
505 hectares, including flying field

1,075, including areas of retained housing

Residential density
30 dph in new housing areas

30% affordable

Development mix
15% one and two bedroom flats; 85% two to five bedroom houses; 130,000m² other floor space including local centre, primary and nursery schools, heritage centre and 1,500 jobs