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Homes plan for airfield is still on the agenda

Wellesbourne Airfield.
Wellesbourne Airfield.

A MAJOR housing developer still appears to be eyeing Wellesbourne Airfield despite Stratford-on-Avon District Council’s recently adopted Core Strategy document seeming to close the door on such a plan.

Gladman Homes have refused to confirm to the Herald whether they will continue to pursue the airfield as a housing site following the adoption of Stratford District Council’s Core Strategy document in July — but recently submitted a number of comments during the neighbourhood plan consultation phase, suggesting that they are still intent on building on the site.

The Core Strategy, which outlines the type and location of future development throughout the district until 2029, stipulates that Wellesbourne should remain an active airfield.

The Walton and Wellesbourne Way Neighbourhood Plan, which could be formally adopted next spring, reiterates the district council’s view on retaining the airfield. Both would pose a significant obstacle to Gladman’s plans to build up to 1,500 homes at the site. Gladman’s comments show they clearly disagree with the neighbourhood plan’s assessment of the airfield site and its reasons for retaining the facility.

Within Gladman’s comments, the company questions whether parts of the former Second World War airfield can be considered heritage assets and suggests that attractions such as the Vulcan Bomber could be relocated elsewhere.

Gladman also say that the alternative sites put forward for potential future housing development would be unlikely to make any substantial contribution in helping the district council deliver additional housing if it is needed.

The company argues that the neighbourhood plan should not unduly act to prevent future development of the site as it would hamper a sustainable opportunity for future growth, and that what is describes as the regeneration of Wellesbourne Airfield will bring substantial benefits to the local economy.

Despite Gladman’s comments the Walton and Wellesbourne Way, the group which has created the draft neighbourhood plan, says it does not intend to make any alterations following suggestions by the company.

John Hargis, chairman of the Walton and Wellesbourne Way, said: “As part of the recent consultation on the draft Wellesbourne and Walton Neighbourhood Plan, almost 100 replies were received from a combination of local residents, businesses, developers, landowners and statutory authorities on how they believed the report could be modified.

“The submission from Gladman focused on the assumption that the owners of Wellesbourne Airfield would not be applying for a renewal of the licence to continue flying at the airfield from the end of 2016 in which case, the land could become available for development of about 1,500 houses.

“The Neighbourhood Plan team considered the views expressed by Gladman and have decided to propose no change to the current position stated in the report which opposes any housing development on the airfield in the expectation that the flying function, along with associated businesses at the airfield, will be safeguarded.

“This is the position taken by the Parish Council in earlier discussions and by the District Council within the recently completed Core Strategy. It is also the position strongly advocated by the campaign group Wellesbourne Matters.

The Neighbourhood Plan report remains as a draft at present and will be subject to review by both the Parish and District Council for acceptance of any amendments prior further progression.”

The public consultation into the Walton and Wellesbourne Neighbourhood Plan has now ended and has been submitted to the inspector at Stratford District Council.

The neighbourhood plan could be adopted following a referendum in the first quarter of 2017.

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