MILLIONS have been wasted opposing a homes plan for a former US air force base that has now been passed after 17 years of wrangling, a councillor said.

George Reynolds, deputy leader of Cherwell District Council, said the proposal for the base at Upper Heyford should have been approved by the authority in 1994.

Instead, it launched a costly battle with site owners the North Oxfordshire Consortium over the scale of the plans.

Yet it last week approved the plans after losing a 2009 independent planning inquiry.

The council’s planning committee last Thursday approved 1,075 homes, a primary school, shops, pub, offices and industrial space.

Some features, including the Battle Command Centre, a heritage centre, will be built and the homes include 311 existing houses from the former base. The council previously argued for fewer homes.

Mr Reynolds said: “Millions of pounds, thousands of man hours, very expensive consultants have gone around and around, expensive officer time has been spent on it, inexpensive councillors both parish and district councillors’ time have been spent on it.

“I look at this and wonder why, what has changed over the last 17 years for the millions of pounds of expense?”

Brandishing 1994 papers for the plan, he said: “I wish to God we had gone ahead and built it.

“To be brutally honest it would have saved a lot of trouble and problems.”

English Heritage said the site should be kept intact, as it was of historical value.

Paul Silver, executive director at the Dorchester Group, which bought the site in 2009, said: “This is an important moment in the life of the site.

“Now we can make more detailed plans that will improve the base and further develop our vision of a lively and diverse community.”

Patricia Kirby, who represents Heyford Park on Upper Heyford Parish council, said: “It’s good news.

“Dorchester Group have promised to offer residents the chance to buy their homes and lots of residents are waiting to do that. All the delays with the planning applications have meant their futures have been on hold as well.”