WELLESBOURNE Airfield could be bought by Stratford District Council to safeguard its future.
The move comes after the council received notice from current owners the Littler family proposing to demolish some buildings on the site – prompting concern from businesses based at the airfield.
Council chiefs this week said they would first attempt negotiate a sale with owners the Littler family, but if that failed had not ruled out making a Compulsory Purchase Order.
It is believed the council would have to for out over £5million to buy the airfield – but with its development value estimated at around £100million the owners could try and push for a higher price.
The airfield was under threat last December when notices were served to businesses on the site and speculation mounted it could be sold to developers for housing.
But the district council recognised the airfield as an ‘important asset’ to the area by not including the site in its Core Strategy – its long term planning document for the district. The document was rubber-stamped in July and clearly states planning permission would be needed to change the site’s use from an aerodrome.
The council has also this week taken immediate action to preserve the airfield by removing the permitted development rights on the site.
Council leader Chris Saint said: “I’m pleased that colleagues have unanimously approved this. It helps support the robustness of our local plan and should allow business operations of the airfield.
“Should they wish to demolish any buildings on site, the owners would now need to apply for planning permission.”
Although business leases for those at the airfield expire on Christmas Eve, businesses welcomed the council’s move.
Mike Roberts, managing director of Take Flight Aviation Limited, said: “If a Compulsory Purchase Order is undertaken by the authority, the airfield offers significant investment potential for the council not only to provide a substantial income in the short term but to hold an asset increasing in value.
“It not only protects jobs but also underlines and protects the council’s core strategy for the district and demonstrates that it cannot be compromised by aggressive landowners and developers.”
Safeguarding the airfield – which is also home to the popular weekly Wellesbourne Market which attracts people from across the midlands – has won widespread backing, and even former Countdown co-host and trained pilot Carol Vorderman has shown her support on Twitter saying she may fly-in to help the cause.
The Littler family had not responded to our request for a comment at the time of going to press.