Gift greenspace a white elephant for town

Politicians on one local council worry the state's gift of a disused airbase could be an offer they cannot afford to accept The transfer of the former Værløse Airbase from the state to the Furesø local council was intended as...

The transfer of the former Værløse Airbase from the state to the Furesø local council was intended as a dowry paid by the state to the town of Værløse after it was forced into a union with the bankrupt Farum local council in 2007.

But if a proposal to turn the area into a nature preserve goes ahead, politicians in the Copenhagen suburb say the gift is one they cannot afford to accept.

The 450-hectare Værløse Airbase was built as an army base in 1910 and converted to the Royal Air Force's first base in 1934. It closed in 2004 and was set to become the property of Furesø local council in October.

The council had intended to keep much of the base in its undeveloped state and use it as a recreational area. But it also had plans to build 300 homes and turn the remaining hangars into movie studios and other commercial properties.

The developments would help pay for the renovation of buildings and roads on the property, and the cleanup of environmental hazards left by the Air Force.

But according to Furesø Mayor Jesper Bach, those plans are threatened by a Preservation Board proposal to prevent development on much of the base.

He said the council's development plans only applied to existing structures, and any construction would carried out 'with respect for the natural environment'.

'We felt there was room for limited development and a reasonable re-use of the existing buildings. The proposal to turn the area into a preserve will make it impossible to do anything with the buildings that are already there.'

If the proposal is passed, Bach said he would recommend that the local council appeal it. If the appeal fails, his recommendation will be to turn down the gift.

'We just can't afford it if it's on those conditions,' he said. 'If there's no way for us to fund our plans, then we'll just leave it to the state to continue to mow the grass out there.'

The Town of Furesø came into existence in January 2007 as part of a national municipal reform that saw a reduction in the number of local councils from 271 to 98.

Værløse was forced by the national government into a union with neighbouring Farum. Farum, at that time was 3 billion kroner in debt and in order to placate Værløse residents, the combined council was given the airbase free of charge, on the condition that profits from development did not exceed 100 million kroner.

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