Plans to sell off a former RAF base in order to build homes remain on course, despite pressure from an all-party parliamentary group.

Wethersfield Airfield in Hedingham Road, is one of 15 sites earmarked for sale by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) within the next six years.

The site could provide land for up to 4,850 homes in a move which would generate roughly £140 million for Government defence spending.

However the All-Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation has raised serious concerns with the sale plans, and said there were “significant disparities” between what MPs were told during a meeting with Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood and a subsequent letter members received from the minister.

Grant Shapps MP, chairman of the 157 member group, said: “Our meeting with the Defence Minister was very worthwhile and extracted some helpful commitments, including supporting continued aviation use at the 15 military aerodromes being disposed of, where possible.

“So parliamentarians were very concerned to see no mention of these commitments in the Minister’s follow-up letter.

“As we celebrate 100 years of the Royal Air Force, which has inspired generations of young people into pursuing high-tech jobs in aviation, we have written back to the Minister to ask specifically what the Ministry of Defence is doing to support General Aviation.”

The group called for assurances local authorities would be given first refusal on ownership of the sites if they were to be disposed of by the Government but said land should be utilised by private planes, gliders and for flight training.

An MoD spokesman said the disposals formed part of the Defence Estate Optimisation Programme, which will see its estate reduced by roughly 30 per cent.

She continued: “The airfields have been marked for disposal because they are surplus to military requirements.

“Some of the airfields have not been active for decades and are not fit for aircraft to land.

“All proceeds from the sale of the sites will be reinvested back into defence.

“Where defence sites are no longer required we work with councils to make sure that the sites’ future use best meets the needs of the community.

“This may include providing thousands of much-needed new homes or their potential for use as civilian airfields.”

In February 2017 it was revealed Braintree Council proposed the airfield as the site of a new “mega prison”, which could have created more than 1,000 jobs and brought millions of pounds in to the district’s economy.

No response was received to the council’s suggestion.