Council set to reaffirm their support for Wellesbourne Airfield

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Wellesbourne Airfield

The fight to prevent Wellesbourne Airfield from being developed into housing is set to be given a boost today, Monday, with Stratford-on-Avon District Council expected to reaffirm their commitment to maintaining the airfield.

The Littler Family, who own the airfield, are keen to build up to 1,500 homes on the site, with developer Gladman Homes, attempting to push the plan forward, despite significant opposition.

Back in December the district council took decisive action to remove permitted development rights, which had left the airfield owners able to demolish buildings on the site.

The council acted amid fears from airfield businesses that demolition works could begin at any time.

By using permitted development rights, the landowners would have been able to bypass the usual planning process required to carry out demolition works.

At today’s cabinet meeting, Stratford District Council are expected to confirm its Article 4 Direction (which removes permitted development rights).

Although the order immediately took effect in December, the council is required to consider objections submitted during a set timeframe, before it can confirm the order.

An objection to the order has been submitted from the Smith Partnership, which represents Littler Investments, Gladman Homes and others involved in the ownership of the airfield.

The letter objected on a number of grounds, stating that the original order was made with no prior consultation and had a considerable impact on the landowners and was based on a false premise that the matter was urgent.

The letter also disputes the number of jobs that would be lost if the airfield was to become housing and says that the existing tenants have been given sufficient time to look at alternative options to continue their businesses.

Despite the objections the council looks set to back up its commitment in the Core Strategy to retain and support the enhancement of Wellesbourne Airfield, by confirming the Article 4 Direction on Monday.

Although a report put before the Cabinet by planning officers admits the threat of demolition does not appear imminent, it states that officers believe there is good reason to confirm the Article 4 Direction in the interests of the proper planning of the area.

The news will be welcomed by businesses at the airfield, who are currently in the middle of a protracted legal battle to extend their leases and safeguard flying at the site.

Rodney Galiffe, who owns the South Warwickshire Flying School at Wellesbourne Airfield, said: “I’m very pleased that this recommendation is being put before the cabinet, but we will have to wait and see what they do on the day. I’m going to attend the meeting and see what happens.”

Mike Roberts, who runs Take Flight Aviation at Wellesbourne Airfield, added: “Nothing has really changed since the council made the order in December and we’re very pleased that it will hopefully be made permanent. It’s very good news and we welcome the council’s continued support.”

Back in December the prospect of the council investigating the compulsory purchase of the airfield was put forward as an option, to ward off the threat from housing developers.

However the report to the cabinet says no further steps have been taken in this direction yet by the authority, but does say a further report will be brought to the Cabinet in due course providing an update on any negotiations to purchase the site and possible next steps.