Marshall Aerospace has announced it will leave its base at Cambridge Airport with the site being used for the development of up to 12,000 new homes.
Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group employs more than 6,000 people, many working from the head office in Cambridge.
Christopher Walkinshaw, from Marshall Aerospace, reassured staff that their jobs were secure, saying they were "absolutely at the centre of our planning for this phase of the programme".
He added: "We have a workforce of nearly 1,500 people in Cambridge who are highly skilled and experienced in the work that we do and we’re really, really keen that any relocation should work for them as well."
- Click below for Becky Jago's interview with Christopher Walkinshaw
The company has a turnover of more than £2.5 billion and works on commercial and military aircraft from around the world. Their contracts include maintaining the C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft for the RAF.
Marshall said they have now identified three new preferred locations:
- Cranfield, Bedfordshire
- Duxford, Cambridgeshire
- Wyton, Cambridgeshire
Alex Dorrian, Executive Chairman of Marshall said: “This is a momentous day for Marshall, when two opportunities coincide to create a launchpad for ambitious long‐term plans for the future of Marshall and also for Cambridge.
“Our commitment to our businesses, our employees, and to Cambridge is driven directly by our shareholders."
- From the archive: Watch our report on Marshall Aerospace from 1999
Alex Dorrain added: "This is the beginning of an exciting phase for Marshall, during which time we will build on our success and focus ever more closely on delivering a unique Marshall experience to our customers.
“There is a great deal of ground to be covered before any decisions can be announced and that work is now underway.
"We will also be working closely with the local planning authorities as they move to the next stage of the development of the 2030+ Local Plan.”
Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough James Palmer said: “This landmark announcement represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to deliver something truly exceptional for the eastern side of Cambridge, in a bold, ambitious mixed development of homes and jobs, supported by the 21st Century public transport offered by the CAM Metro.
“In meeting with Marshall I was hugely encouraged and excited by this proposal. There is both an enthusiasm to develop a compelling masterplan and a real commitment to leaving a genuine legacy. This is about far more than simply filling the site with conventional housing.
“I welcome the prospect of a sustainable new district with its own unique identity and which will be seen as an exemplar for the rest of the world in how to develop such sites intelligently and with real flair."