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22 January, 2020 - 13:45 By Tony Quested

Cranfield or Wyton as Marshall ADG ditches Duxford

Cambridge industrial behemoth Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group has ditched IWM Duxford from a shortlist of three potential new UK locations.

It leaves a straight choice between Cranfield and RAF Wyton in St Ives for a new HQ – and the Bedfordshire site would appear to be vastly superior, in terms of facilities and required investment spend. A decision will be taken as soon as possible this year.

The only signifiant factor Wyton would appear to have in its favour is that so many of Marshall ADG’s 1500 staff live in north Cambridgeshire so travel to work tyreprint would be reduced if Marshall cold-shouldered Cranfield, which is around 38 miles away. But Wyton has already been deemed inadequate once before – back in April 2010.

IWM Duxford was named as a potential relocation option for the business when it announced its intention to move out of Cambridge by 2030. But after uncovering a number of insurmountable issues, both Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group and Imperial War Museums have now reluctantly agreed IWM Duxford is no longer a feasible option.

Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group CEO, Alistair McPhee, said: “We had identified an area of land at IWM Duxford situated to the far South-West of the existing airfield that did not impact areas of historical interest or require complex infrastructure upgrades.

“Initially this appeared to be an ideal location, giving us more than enough space to accommodate existing and future requirements, however as we progressed our due diligence we hit a very significant challenge in terms of the need for reclassification of airspace that would have made any sort of aerobatics from the airfield virtually impossible.

“As part of our operational discussions with IWM and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) it became apparent that the airspace above our buildings would need to be classified as a no-fly zone. 

“This, along with the existing restrictions over Duxford village, would massively restrict the ability for historic aircraft to take off safely for air display and we said at the outset that we would not engage in a plan that in any way compromised the historical integrity of the site.

“In partnership with IWM we have worked very hard to find a way around this challenge by either re-routing the take-off, flight path and landing of aircraft participating in displays but unfortunately none of these options have proved feasible.

“We’ve also looked at alternative locations within the existing IWM campus but again have not been able to find a viable option and therefore, very reluctantly, both parties have now agreed that all possible avenues have been explored.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the team from IWM and members of local government for all of the support and hard work they have put into this project and I know they are as disappointed as we are that we could not find a way to make it work.”

Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group remains confident it will be in a position to confirm its preferred option during 2020 as planned.

Vacating the Newmarket Road, Cambridge site will provide space for 12,000 homes and 5 million sq ft of business and commercial space, creating a large number of new jobs as well as crucial residential and commercial capacity for Cambridge.

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