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Council backs airfield businesses hit with eviction notices

Wellesbourne Airfield
Wellesbourne Airfield

Last week the Herald revealed that businesses on the airfield had received letters from landowners the Littler Family, informing them that they would have to leave by 24 December 2016.

The letters, said notice had been served on the airfield operator Radarmoor and without the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) licence held by them, flying businesses would no longer be able to operate.

The letter states: “All use of the property as an airfield will cease on the date on which Radarmoor gives up possession. In effect, therefore, any activities carried out by you which require the use of an operational airfield will have to cease at that time.”

Mat Timms, who runs the café at Wellesbourne Airfield, said: “It was a bit scary to get the letter to be honest and it’s a worry for us because this is a family business of two generations.

“It does make me worry about the future but this information is nothing new, me and my colleagues set up Wellesbourne Matters to keep the airfield up and running.”

The future of Wellesbourne Airfield has been in doubt since 2014 after the Littler family applied to include the airfield in Stratford District Council’s housing guide, used to steer developments in the district until 2031.

Gladman Developments have also expressed an interest in building up to 1,500 homes on the site.

John Hargis, chairman of the Walton and Wellesbourne Neighborhood Plan Team, said: “I am extremely disappointed with the position that has been taken. Wellesbourne is an integral part of the national network of airfields and it’s a source of tourism in the area which benefits the village. Many of the residents we have interviewed as part of the neighborhood plan have made it clear they are against developing the airfield site into housing.”

No application to build on Wellesbourne Airfield has been received by Stratford District Council, but a statement by Gladman Developments last week said: “Gladman Developments has an interest in the land. Wellesbourne Airfield is a previously developed site and can deliver a significant number of much needed new homes in addition to new jobs and a broad range of community and education facilities in an established sustainable location. Gladman is currently promoting the proposal through the Stratford-on-Avon Local Plan.”

Wellesbourne Matters has campaigned vocally to prevent the airfield being developed into housing, while Wellesbourne Parish Council unsuccessfully applied to get the airfield registered as a community asset last year.

Wellesbourne Airfield was praised last year after being named the Best Light Aviation Airfield in the UK by the Aircraft Owners’ and Pilots’ Association.

It is home to several flying clubs and flight training schools, a café and an aircraft maintenance business.

The airfield was established in 1941 after the Government placed a compulsory purchase order on several farms including Three Bridges Farm, owned by the Littler family.

During the Second World War it was home to No.22 Operational Training Unit which at its peak in 1944 turned out 113 aircrews a month.

After the war the airfield continued to train RAF pilots until it was sold back to the Littler family in 1965 and was used for vehicle testing, and as a base for aircraft and microlights.

In 1981 the airfield was granted its commercial operating license by the CAA and was opened by the Duke of Edinburgh.

The airfield’s most famous resident, Avro Vulcan XM655, arrived in 1984 and is now maintained on the site by the Vulcan XM655 Maintenance and Preservation Society.

A small museum is also located at Wellesbourne Airfield and the Wellesbourne Airfield Market, one of the biggest open-air markets in the country currently takes place every week.

It is understood that the market operator has not been told to leave and the market will continue to be held on a Saturday morning.

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