Transforming a historic RAF airbase in Wiltshire into 43 new homes is the "last chance to save" it, developers claim.

The plan to develop the former RAF Yatesbury airbase, near Calne, submitted to Wiltshire Council by Stonewood Partnerships, includes restoring and turning into homes the Grade II listed former officers’ mess, the teaching block, hostel and lecture hut.

Stonewood land and planning director James Petherick said the new plan is designed not only to safeguard the history of the base, which was opened by the Royal Army Flying Corps in 1916, but to reflect its status as a conservation area.

He said: “The airfield is a fascinating piece of military and social history but it is inaccessible to the public and decaying progressively – and there is a very real danger that if something is not done soon then these important buildings will be lost."

“We really feel this is the last chance to save the historic hangar and the rest of the buildings.”

The teaching block and lecture hut, if not the officers’ mess, would have been familiar to the legendary WWII hero Guy Gibson, leader of the Dam Busters raid, as it was in those buildings where he studied while learning to fly at Yatesbury from November 1936 to January 1937.

Wiltshire Times: Dam Buster Guy Gibson VC trained at RAF Yatesbury.Dam Buster Guy Gibson VC trained at RAF Yatesbury.

Gibson was awarded the Victoria Cross for leading the 1943 bombing raid on two large dams in the Ruhr area of Germany.

The 32-acre site, four miles from Calne, has been empty since a plan to build 62 homes was approved in 2007 after a planning inquiry but later abandoned.

The new plan would see seven crumbling buildings, including the former officers’ mess, teaching block, hostel and lecture hut, restored and turned into homes.

A further 36 timber-framed sustainable three, four and five-bedroomed homes will form a community around public spaces and gardens.

Mr Petherick said: “The homes will be built to a fabric first principle, their efficient timber frame construction, high-quality materials and air source heat pumps will use far less energy.”

The last remaining aircraft hangar, the Grade II listed hangar 02, which was once used to store Tiger Moths and de Havilands, will have its timber frame and steel exterior refurbished with an eye on future use.

“We would look to some kind of sympathetic commercial use, something like wine or classic car storage,” said Mr Petherick.