POW camp in danger of demolition

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Exterior of POW Camp 116.

A prisoner-of-war camp dating to the Second World War is in danger of being demolished. PoW Camp 116 was set up in Hatfield Heath, Essex, in 1941 to house Italian prisoners-of-war, and in 1943 and 1944 it mainly held German and Austrian inmates.

But the existence of the camp has been called into question by local developers Pelham Structures, who have drawn up plans to replace it with a new housing development. The plans, submitted to Uttlesford District Council, described the camp as a ‘a blotch on the landscape’, and suggest replacing it with 40 residential buildings, totalling £8 million in value.

Camp 116’s rare Laing huts.

The site has a rich heritage, conforming to the so-called ‘Standard’ PoW camp layout. The guards’ compound consists of standard Ministry of War Production (MoWP) huts, while the inmates’ huts are built in the rare timber Laing style. An English Heritage survey rated the camp as ‘near complete’ in 2003.

The camp was decommissioned in 1955, and was then privately owned until it was bequeathed to a beneficiary who sold it to a building company. The company’s proposal to demolish the camp has been met with resistance from members of the local community, who have launched a campaign to prevent the housing development going ahead.

The petition to stop the demolition has gained over 2,000 signatures and can be viewed at www.change.org/p/uttlesford-district-council-stop-the-demolition-of-pow-camp-116.

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