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CAMPAIGN LATEST: Businesses react as council steps in to halt airfield demolition plans

Businesses fighting to save Wellesbourne Airfield were handed a boost by Stratford-on-Avon District Council today after it acted to prevent the landowner from demolishing buildings on the site.

During this morning’s cabinet meeting, councillors opted to remove permitted development rights at the airfield with immediate effect.

Until the meeting Littler Investments would have been able to put in what is known as a Section 80 notice, to carry out such works.

The owners warned businesses of their intention undertake demolition works at the airfield late last month, though the council’s decision today has put a stop to any such action.

The cabinet also decided to seek powers to compulsorily purchase the airfield if negotiations with the owners fail and to obtain an injunction if any attempt is made to start the demolition process.

Businesses are currently in the middle of a legal challenge to get their leases at the airfield extended, but have been warned by the landowners that they face huge rent increases if they are successful.

Reacting to today’s decision Matt Timms, who runs the Touchdown Café at Wellesbourne Airfield, said: “Everybody at the airfield is just so relieved about this decision and really happy that the council is showing us so much support. This allows us to go to court about the leases and not worry about them demolishing the buildings."

Mike Roberts, who runs take Flight Aviation at Wellesbourne, said: “We’re delighted by the news that the council are being so supportive of the airfield, they’ve dealt with this fantastically. It’s a great bit of news to get, especially at this time of year, and it gives us some much needed security as a business.”

Frankie Stuart, secretary of Wellesbourne Matters, said: "I'm so happy, I'm just full of praise for the council, a lot of people run down local government but they've been fantastic. lets face it they worked very hard on the Core Strategy, they weren't going to see somebody crash through it and totally ignore it, that would make them look ineffective."

The Littler family and developers Gladman are believed to be furious that their proposals to close down the airfield and build 1,500 homes on the land has been repeatedly rejected at every level – including that of the planning inspectorate.

Given that the airfield has been refused classification as a development site in the council’s core strategy, there is deep concern that the owners now want to render the site unusable for aviation purposes by wrecking it.

Earlier this month a group of pilots and flying enthusiasts at Wellesbourne, who call themselves Landed Aviation, launched an online petition calling for the airfield to be saved.

To view the petition, which has already been signed by more than 3,000 people, visit https://www.change.org/p/stratford-district-council-save-welllesbourne-airfield-from-demolition

For a full report and reaction see this week’s Herald.

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