Landowners break their silence on Wellesbourne Airfield

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Following Stratford District Council’s decision last week to legally block the demolition of Wellesbourne Airfield, the Smith Partnership, acting on behalf of the landowners Littler Investments, released the following statement.

Littler Investments have always desired to adopt a fair approach with regard to the tenants of Wellesbourne Airfield, as they have sought to determine the future of their land.

“As part of this approach, for the last 18 months the operators and owners of the airfield have kept the tenants informed of the situation, beginning in June 2015 when new, formal leases with beneficial terms were offered to tenants.

“After none of the businesses had chosen to take up this offer after six months, the owners decided not to renew the subtenant’s leases when the operator of the airport’s lease expires.

“In order to allow a substantial time-period for the tenants’ businesses to find suitable alternative premises before the end of the lease, they informed tenants in December 2015 that the leases would expire 12 months later in December 2016.

“Since then, tenants have formally applied to have their tenancies renewed. There is now an ongoing legal process, by which a judge will decide whether the existing tenants are entitled to new tenancies.

“The tenants have appointed legal advisors, who will no doubt have advised them both of the legal process and the potential outcomes.

“The tenants, through their solicitors, have also asked for clarity as to whether they will be able to continue using the airfield for now, given the Court process will take a few months to resolve.

“Reflecting Littler Investments’ desire to adopt a fair approach, they have confirmed that arrangements will be put in place to enable the airfield to continue operating beyond the end of this year until further notice.

If the Court determines that the tenants are entitled to remain, any new tenancies would be decided by the court in due course, rather than by the landowners, and these would reflect fair market rents.

“As such, various figures published in the press are not recognised by the landowners. Similarly the landowners have been subject to a number of personal criticisms, which have questioned their motivations and conduct.

“In fact, the landowners have sought to keep tenants informed of the situation at all times, and continue to seek positive engagement.

“We have always been keen to adopt a fair approach with regard to the tenants of Wellesbourne Airfield, and have provided as much advance warning as possible to enable these tenants to plan for the future, so it is disappointing that our approach towards our own land has been negatively portrayed.

“We appreciate that the need to find new premises may not be the outcome the current tenants wanted and this will be decided by the court in due course. However, arrangements have been put in place to enable the airfield to continue operating in the meantime.

Response to Stratford-on-Avon District Council’s decision on Compulsory Purchase and permitted development rights

“The landowners were surprised to learn of Stratford-on-Avon District Council’s decision to enter into the Compulsory Purchase process and to deny the site its permitted development rights. Littler Investments have not yet been formally notified by the Council of the decision. As such, they will make more detailed comments in due course.

“We were surprised to learn of Stratford-on-Avon Council’s decision to enter a process by which a substantial amount of Stratford-on-Avon taxpayers’ money could be spent to purchase the site. We were particularly surprised given the constructive engagement between ourselves and Stratford-on-Avon Council in meetings about the site’s long term future as recent as November.

“The Council’s stated objective seems to be preservation of jobs. Yet jobs would only be lost if existing businesses cannot relocate, and we have done everything to provide sufficient notice to allow them to do so. The previous redevelopment proposals would have seen more than 800 full-time-equivalent jobs generated at the site, while the figures variously quoted for existing employment are firstly, significantly lower in comparison; and secondly, potentially inflated as many existing jobs are not full time.

“At a time when councils’ resources are stretched, is this the best use of public money?”

Planning issues

“The current matters between the landlord and tenants are separate to the site’s planning status.

“The entitlements of the tenants are a matter for the court to consider; any future development of the site is a matter to be considered and approved through the planning process.

“The landowners are aware of the Council’s planning policies relating to the site and are considering the site’s long term future in this context.

“Indeed the owners were pleased to accept the Council’s recent invitation to a meeting at which Councillors and Officers explained how they considered the site could be developed, in line with their adopted Local Plan policies.

“The landowners have committed to carefully consider the Council’s suggestions and meet again with the Council at a future date.”

Rental Figures

Littler investments said the rental figures they are proposing for the businesses if their leases are extended have been misinterpreted and the amount stated to businesses would be an annual figure not a monthly one. They added that it would be up to the court to decide the terms of any new leases if it rules that the businesses are entitled to remain.

 

  • milo

    Sounds fair don’t let bullies win!!!!

    • Stewart

      Bullies being the SDC or a property development company who wants to demolish buildings before the tenants have their case heard by the courts which is their legal right.

      • jolox

        SDC and the Herald

        • Stewart

          You seem to think that developers have the right to do as they like with total disregard for the law, thank goodness for the free press and the SDC.

          • jolox

            Very biased free press.

          • Stewart

            Everyone is entitled to an opinion no matter how biased, know what I’m saying.

          • jolox

            Surely not the local press though.

          • Stewart

            Everyone is entitled to an opinion which is essential in any democracy. I would however point out that the article that we are discussing includes the full statement released by the landowners solicitor so it’s not entirely biased. It could be it’s you that’s totally biased not the Stratford Herald.

          • jolox

            This one maybe, but countless others not. I am certainly not biased.

          • Stewart

            Everyone who has an opinion is biased me included

          • Stewart

            As I understand it the SDC have already suggested that the site is developed for mixed use that retains the aviation element. If this happens the SDC will have a valuable asset, the land owners would have had this as an option but have obviously rejected it in their pursuit of housing which could now cost them the site.

  • Sminkypinky

    I’d be more worried by the council’s will to compulsarily purchase; what deals will be handed out by council officers, to whom, and for what in return? Watch carefully folks; councils tend not to be too transparent over such matters. I should add, I have no vested interest in any matters pertaining to this topic.

    • Stewart

      Interesting that you haven’t supplied any evidence to support your claims, we’re all waiting.

      • Sminkypinky

        There’s plenty of ‘evidence’ that transactions are waved through by councils for nefarious reasons; I’m just warning people to dig a little deeper and ask for the real truth and not take anything at face value. You got any evidence to the contrary? Or more to the point, what is your position, and on what grounds?

        • Stewart

          Come on where’s this plenty of evidence, put up or shut up!

          • jolox

            Put up or shut up! The pro Airfield lobby are bit like the ‘remainers’, you are not allowed an opinion other than yours. There are a lot of people that would like to see the airfield shut, if only to get rid of the very annoying helicopters.

          • Stewart

            I’m simply asking him to provide the evidence to back up his accusations against the council, he keeps claiming he has evidence so let him produce it. To be honest I’d be more concerned if the council chose to back the developers and ignore their published core strategy and the government inspectors decision that the airfield should be maintained for aviation use. You talk about Brexit rermainers but you can’t accept that the airfield is not classed as land for housing development. Swapping a very small number of helicopters for two to three thousand cars is just stupid.

          • Sminkypinky

            If you would read more carefully: I just suggested that councils (note the plural, ergo generic) can be quite opaque when it suits them, especially where officers may have undeclared vested interests. No specific accusations made. As a starting point I suggest you read the ‘Rotten Boroughs’ section of Private Eye and then tell us that all councils are squeaky clean. Just an observation: these ‘thousands of cars’ exist already; they ain’t suddenly going to materialise out of thin air.

          • Stewart

            They don’t exist in Wellesbourne but they will if they build 1600 houses.

          • jolox

            Has it not occurred to you that if and it is a big IF, SDC get their hands on the Airfield. Give it a few years until the CS runs out and hey presto prime development land

          • VladTheLibrarian

            And there’s a lot of people who would like to see the airfield remain open… So you’d prefer to get rid of a few helicopters and replace them with thousands of cars clogging the roads…?

          • VladTheLibrarian

            It’s the anti-airfield lobby who are rather like the remainers, it’s all about money, not about values…

          • jolox

            I’m sure if you were I the same position you would want to make as much as you could out of it. Most of the anti airfield lobby don’t say much as they get shouted down.

          • Roger Pickles

            Too true jolox.

  • VladTheLibrarian

    Perhaps Littlers would like to publish the “new, formal leases with beneficial terms”. There were several good reasons why no tenants signed… “jobs would only be lost if existing businesses cannot relocate” Where do aviation businesses suddenly ‘relocate’ to…??

    • Stewart

      As I understand it the high Court will make a decision on the tenants leases at the end of January and the land owner/developer wanted to demolish the buildings in early January. That doesn’t sound like a Landlord who is engaging with his tenants or the local authority. I suspect this is more about the developers wanting to drive a coach and horses through the core statagy, if Wellesbourne airfield is destroyed so is the core stratagy. It will be open season for every developer to build on green belt land across the county.

  • DaveR

    Personally I live in Wellesbourne and am really happy that the council are backing the airfield and the tennants. I like having the airfield nearby, I go to ‘Wings and Wheels’ each year, visit the museum with my children and use the cafe regularly. I would be deeply unhappy if more housing was built. Wellesbourne has had more than its fair share of development over recent times with no improvement to facilites or infrastructure. The owners are trying to destroy the airfield and the businesses associated with it so that it becomes derelict and a prime site for development.

  • Roger Pickles

    I shall be glad to see the back of the airfield. Good riddance to the flying schools who fly all over Wellesbourne with no concern for residents. Bulldoze and redevelop.

    • cwiseman

      matron – he’s out of bed again

      • Ronnie Pickering

        If you dont like the sound of light aircraft and helicopters why exactly did you buy a house at wellesbourne??

        • cwiseman

          I think you may have intended to reply to the person above me

    • Ronnie Pickering

      As below, obviously financially linked to littlers…

  • old_moaning

    I hope people realise the Littler’s are not the people SDC are dealing with but a company called Gladman Land/Developments….They know every trick in the book and are totally ruthless…. A simple Google will reveal everything you need to know about them…

    From their web site “Gladman is the UK’s most successful land promoter with an unrivalled
    success rate of over 90%. Our passion to win and ability to create
    innovative planning solutions are at the heart of what we do”

    “Landowners can be involved in the process as little or as much as
    they prefer; with some landowners leaving the process entirely to us,
    whilst others take a more hands-on approach, either way our dedicated
    team has one objective – to achieve a planning win for you.

    From the moment a landowner signs up to partner with us, all fees
    associated with the sites promotion are paid by us. If we are
    successful, then we take our return when the site is sold with the
    benefit of planning permission to the highest bidding house builder.”

    • Roger Pickles

      Good, lets hope their the winning team they say they are and redevelop the land.