'CRUCIAL' housing for RAF Brize Norton personnel could be a step closer after a government minister threw his weight behind the plans.

Defence minister Tobias Ellwood met Witney MP Robert Courts and West Oxfordshire District Council leader James Mills to discuss the REEMA North and Central sites on Upavon Way, Carterton.

Planning permission for 200 homes was granted in 2003, but the land remains undeveloped and the council and Mr Courts are seeking to break the deadlock.

Mr Ellwood emphasised the importance of quality housing for service personnel, but Mr Mills added the long-awaited development would benefit other residents too.

Read again: Fresh calls for long-awaited RAF housing in Carterton

He said: "This has a knock-on effect, not just for service personnel but also the wider community.

"When the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is not able to put service families into MoD properties, they have to seek properties on the private rental market."

Last month, Mr Mills revealed the council was in 'ongoing discussions' over the site with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), which is responsible for military housing and was represented at the meeting.

He added: "We're looking into how we can bring the project to fruition as quickly as possible and how to collectively bring the best possible case to the Treasury."

Oxford Mail:

Mr Courts set up Wednesday's meeting, which came after the MoD's department for military housing revealed last month that more than 150 Brize personnel are currently living in Faringdon or Fairford, Gloucestershire.

The Witney MP said: “It’s crucial that we all keep pushing for the redevelopment of these brownfield sites to provide the high-quality affordable housing Carterton and the RAF needs, and our service personnel deserve."

More than 800 homes stood on the REEMA sites in the mid-20th century, but many were knocked down after the MoD sold more than 55,000 service family homes to Annington Property Limited in 1996.

By February 2011, all those on REEMA North had been demolished and just 369 of the original 820 remained.

Read again: Upavon Way 'eyesore' to be replaced by homes

In 2003, the council granted planning permission to build houses on the REEMA sites, which expired after ten years.

The homes should have been built by 2016, but were delayed 'for funding reasons'.

The council saw the delay as 'an opportunity to revisit the mix, design and layout of the permitted 200 home scheme with a view to potentially increasing the number of new homes to around 300', according to its local plan.

Meanwhile, part of REEMA Central has been made available to Annington Homes, which is working on a market housing scheme of 135 houses through a planning application, although 54 will be demolished.

Mr Mills said: "It is in the best interests of everyone and we'll do everything we can to facilitate them."