'Business as usual' for Wellesbourne airfield tenants - The Leamington Observer

'Business as usual' for Wellesbourne airfield tenants

Leamington Editorial 9th Dec, 2016   0

THE FUTURE for businesses at Wellesbourne Airfield is again up in the air.

The airfield was under threat last December when notices were served to businesses on the site and speculation mounted it could be sold to developers for housing.

But Stratford District Council recognised the airfield as an ‘important asset’ to the area by not including the site in its Core Strategy which was rubber-stamped in July, and which clearly states planning permission would be needed to change the site’s use from an aerodrome.

However, it has now emerged the district council has received a Section 80 notice from airfield owners the Littler family proposing to demolish some buildings on the site. While not all the buildings are proposed for demolition it is not yet know which are.

Rodney Galiffe, principle of South Warwickshire Flying School which is based at the airfield, told The Observer: “This all seems a mockery of the landlord and tenant act if they’re going through this process now. No one has had notice of any demolition other than what is coming to light in the news.

“We will continue with business as usual for as long as we can. Stratford District Council and the independent planning inspector have said Wellesbourne Airfield will remain an aerodrome until 2031.

“There is nowhere else like Wellesbourne Airfield. A compulsory purchase order is still a possibility.”

District council leader Coun Chris Saint has said the demolition application had come out of the blue.

He told the BBC: “The family were well aware of the intentions of not just us but the planning inspector to protect the existence of the airfield.

“The concern is the site could become derelict. We have a local plan which says we should keep it as an airfield and any decision made by the landowners have to respect the strategic proposals in the local plan.

“Although we can’t refuse an application for demolition we’re trying to find a situation which would avoid sterilizing the site.

“We’ve imposed conditions and while they don’t give us the power to say ‘no’ it does give the power to make sure those conditions are satisfied.

“The family need to check if they need planning permission to change the nature of the site and I’m not aware they have accomplished that.

“The whole behaviour of the site owners towards trying to get their way is what is creating the difficulties at the present time.

“I have advised them there is no value in booting all operations off the site and leaving it with nothing. There is much to be gained from keeping a dialogue open and allowing the service to continue.”

The family had not responded to The Observer’s request for a comment at the time of going to press.

The airfield was used an an RAF training centre for British and Commonwealth aircrews during the Second World War, turning out pilots, navigators, wireless operators and air gunners.

It has been owned by the Littler family since 1965 and is also home to the popular Wellesbourne Market.

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