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3rd Jul, 2022

Agreement prompts further fears for Wellesbourne Airfield's future

FEARS have again been raised over the future of flying at Wellesbourne Airfield.

It follows the signing of an agreement – a Memorandum of Understanding – between airfield owner Littler Investments and Stratford District Council (SDC) to protect the future of the site while negotiations take place surrounding the Compulsory Purchase Order being made by the council.

The owner has long wanted to sell the airfield to housing developers and the agreement followed a lengthy court battle to allow businesses – including two flying schools, a cafe and an aeroplane workshop – to get their tenancies renewed.

The tenants lost the original case in June last year, and then a further appeal in March.

But the agreement – which the owner can pull out of with 28 days notice – requires Littler Investments to offer year-long tenancies to businesses where ‘constructive discussions’ have been made.

Flying club Take Flight – the biggest aviation operator at the site – was the only business not offered a lease extension and has been given a final date of October 29 to quit the airfield.

And the club – which led the campaign against development plans – has raised concern about the memorandum and its ability to protect flying at the airfield, fearing its wording allows for one of the two runways to be axed and the other shortened.

Take Flight spokeswoman Hana Smiddy said: “Demolishing and shortening the remaining runway will severely minimise what can come in and will be difficult for commercial flight training.

“It’s a blatant way of reducing the income and success of the airfield.

“SDC forcibly purchases the airfield in one breath but say they don’t have a say what happens at the airfield in another. It’s a bizarre use of their powers. The memorandum lists one runway, one cafe, one club – it’s not using the airfield to full potential and not maintaining or enhancing it.”

The club argued the agreement was at odds with the Neighbourhood Plan – a democratic and legally binding document – to preserve and enhance aviation at the site.

The document also suggests the airfield will be subject to ‘mixed use redevelopment’ – further details of which the Observer has not been able to clarify.

SDC refused to comment when asked for a response to concerns surrounding the agreement.

Wellesbourne Parish Council is also planning to approach the district council with concerns the memorandum did not reflect the Neighbourhood Plan.

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