Advanced Reading Exercise

Future of Historic Air Base

Read the text and look at the questions that follow it. In this reading comprehension, the questions are multiple choice.

RAF Upper Heyford - once the heart of allied defence against nuclear attack by the USSR - could become a Cold War 'museum'.

Historians want parts of the base to be preserved as a heritage centre that could show future generations the struggle with Soviet communism 'in a way no document can'.

Details of the latest recommendations for Heyford - now being called Heyford Park - have been put forward by English Heritage which has called for measures to prevent demolition of the 'irreplaceable' military remains.

Current thinking comes from a detailed assessment of Cold War infrastructure across England by English Heritage experts. Keith Watson, the chief executive of the North Oxfordshire Consortium who are to develop part of the site for housing, said they were in full agreement with English Heritage's proposals.

He said: "We are quite content with what English Heritage is proposing. It has always been part of our scheme to retain these structures in any event. "We are working with English Heritage to agree a consistent plan for the buildings."

David Went, English Heritage inspector of ancient monuments, said many Upper Heyford features exemplify historical aspects of national importance about the Cold War.

"The sheer scale and bare functionality of the structures on the base can illustrate for present and future generations, in a way no document can, the reality of the struggle with Soviet Communism," he said.

"In our view much of this character would be lost by future ill-thought-out change and there stands an opportunity to ensure this does not happen.

"We recognize that preservation of the whole base exactly as it stands today may not be a realistic option but a sustainable future could be found which balances the need for preservation against other needs."

Mr Went said the English Heritage view was that the future appearance of the base should include the most significant monuments and should:

  • keep the open character of the runway area without planting schemes planned by developers
  • keep a section of the main runway and the remainder as a grassed avenue
  • provide all-weather access to the monuments, preferably by keeping existing base taxiways and perimeter tracks, for visitors or other practical use
  • preserve the present landscape balance around the bomb bunkers and quick reaction area.

The English Heritage study, submmitted to the Planning Inspectorate in advance of the public inquiry into planning wrangles over the base which started at Bodicote House yesterday, has revealed that much of the Heyford landscape prior to becoming an airbase was open common or heathland - a feature Cherwell District Council planners would like re-established as a local country park.

The council aims to defend the accepted 1,000-home plan which the North Oxfordshire Consortium of developers wishes to extend to over 5,000 homes.

1. Why does English Heritage want to preserve the air base?
    They believe it is still of military importance.
    They think it can show young people something about history.
    There hasn't been proper planning by developers.

2. What do the North Oxfordshire Consortium think?
    They want to build more houses than originally planned
    They say there is some possibility of keeping the base's original buildings.
    They want to call the base "Heyford Park".

3. Which of these proposal does English Heritage oppose?
    Planting trees where the runway is currently.
    Making it easy for people to see the important military buildings.
    Not destroying all of the runway.

4. Which would be the best sub-title to the article?
    Fight Against Communism Not Over Yet.
    Historians and Developers Clash Bitterly.
    Fight To Preserve Historical 'Document'.

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