Stratford District Council remains committed to the compulsory purchase of Wellesbourne Airfield if necessary, despite growing financial pressures on the authority caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The council has already put aside up to £1.125million to cover potential legal costs relating to the compulsory purchase and during last week’s full council meeting Liberal Democrat member Cllr Victoria Alcock asked how much had actually been spent so far.
In response, deputy leader Cllr Daren Pemberton revealed that just over £142,000 has been spent up to now and that the council is still committed to pursuing a compulsory purchase, should the owner of the site Littler Investments, push to develop it into housing.
Cllr Pemberton said: “This authority is absolutely clear and determined that if the owner of the site brings forward development plans that do not meet our stated policy objectives we will continue with the CPO process and seek possession of Wellesbourne Airfield through the courts if we cannot do so by other means.”
He added: “If anything has changed, it is the further degradation of the secondary airfield network across the UK with the result that Wellesbourne’s strategic importance is even greater.”
Stratford District Council’s Core Strategy says flying functions at Wellesbourne Airfield should be retained and enhanced and last year the authority entered into a memorandum of understanding with the owners to try and ensure this is the case.
However some of the flying community at Wellesbourne have criticised the agreement, saying it only commits the owners to maintaining the smallest category of runway at the site.
One business that’s had to move on from Wellesbourne Airfield is Take Flight Aviation, which had played a leading role in legal action against the landowners.
The business has now moved to London Oxford Airport and Enstone Airfield, having vacated its premises at Wellesbourne in March.
The landowners had offered nearly every tenant new one-year tenancies to remain, but not Take Flight, saying there had been a breakdown in the landlord-tenant relationship.