1st Apr, 2020

Flight school loses battle to stay on Wellesbourne Airfield

Catherine Thompson 17th Feb, 2020 Updated: 17th Feb, 2020

A FLIGHT school has lost its battle against being evicted from Wellesbourne Airfield.

Take Flight Aviation led a long legal fight by tenants against owners Littler Investments – which wanted to sell the airfield to housing developers – which also included South Warwickshire Flying School, Take Flight Aviation and Touchdown Cafe.

But the legal bid failed and a further appeal against the decision was also lost and the remaining tenants faced eviction.

A so-called ‘memorandum of understanding’ was then drawn up between Littler Investments and Stratford District Council (SDC) – which is exploring a compulsory purchase to preserve the site as an airfield – which included an offer of 12 month lease extensions to some of the tenants.

But Take Flight was not offered an extension and despite efforts to secure a new tenancy via the courts, will be leaving the airfield on February 28.

School owner Mike Roberts has accused the owners of discriminating against the business due to its role in the legal battle and the Save Wellesbourne Airfield campaign.

He suggested the owner felt his business was a threat to what he believed was still the intention to close down the airfield.

An announcement from the school said: “2020 is a leap year and although Take Flight’s preference was to stay at Wellesbourne our enforced leap is being made with 2020 vision to a brighter future with a landlord that wants to support general aviation and have the benefits of one of the country’s biggest and most respected flying clubs and schools at their airfield. We hope to be able to offer even better facilities at an airfield that supports us and the Take Flight brand.

“By evicting the largest tenant the landlord’s intentions are clear as they continue to run down the airfield. Despite assurances of support to all the businesses SDC have ignored the breach of the memorandum of understanding entered into by them and the landlords that required the airfield owners to enter into negotiations with all the tenants for new leases and maintain the established flying function.

“We hope now that SDC have acknowledged the detrimental harm the loss of Take Flight Aviation (TFA) would bring together with the loss of the majority of the airfield’s income, movements and training fleet, it will be impossible for them to ignore the facts that the established flying function is no longer being maintained and they will take immediate action to advance the compulsory purchase of the airfield as soon as possible as has been requested by the Department of Transport.

“It is unfortunate that our actions to save the airfield have led what appears to be a personal vendetta against TFA. The aircraft and team will be available locally and although this may cause some inconvenience in the short term TFA will emerge stronger.”

The statement also mentioned SDC had refused planning permission to remove the school’s building because it would ’cause detrimental harm to the flying function at the airfield’, although it would not be in use.

It added the school hoped to return ‘one day with reasonable landlords serious in promoting general aviation’ and hoped supporters would continue to lobby SDC.

The Observer has asked Littler Investments for a comment.

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