THE FUTURE for businesses at Wellesbourne Airfield is again up in the air.
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 Stratford District Council recognised the airfield as an ‘important asset’ to the area by not including the site in its Core Strategy which was rubber-stamped in July, and which clearly states planning permission would be needed to change the site’s use from an aerodrome.
However, it has now emerged the district council has received a Section 80 notice from airfield owners the Little family proposing to demolish some buildings on the site. While not all the buildings are proposed for demolition it is not yet know which are.
Rodney Galiffe, principle of South Warwickshire Flying School which is based at the airfield, told The Observer: “This all seems a mockery of the landlord and tenant act if they’re going through this process now. No one has had notice of any demolition other than what is coming to light in the news.
“We will continue with business as usual for as long as we can. Stratford District Council and the independent planning inspector have said Wellesbourne Airfield will remain an aerodrome until 2031.
“There is nowhere else like Wellesbourne Airfield. A compulsory purchase order is still a possibility.”
District council leader Coun Chris Saint has said the demolition application had come out of the blue.
He said: “There is nothing to be gained by destroying businesses that employ more than 200 people at this time.
“The Council policy has the support of the national Planning Inspectorate and it is not a realistic option that demolition of operational buildings will make it easy for the owners to build a big housing estate at the airfield.
“We are confronted with an unnecessary threat to the businesses on site that would sterilise the site for any practical uses with the risk of an eyesore for many years to come, when we would not wish to put the integrity of our adopted Local Plan at risk.”
And Managing director of Take Flight Aviation, Mike Roberts expressed his disappointed at the way he and the other tenants are being treated.
He said in an open letter to the family: “The plan to demolish the airfield without any chance of success of a future large scale housing development appears to be a deliberate action to circumvent the rights of tenure that would otherwise be afforded to us under the Landlord and Tenant Act.
“The motivation for this seems simply to make the site redundant with the hope of getting planning permission by the back door.
“The deliberate vandalism of one of the countries busiest General Aviation airfields goes directly against the government’s vision for ‘the UK being the best place in the world for GA as a flourishing, wealth generating and job producing sector of the economy’.”.
The airfield was used an an RAF training centre for British and Commonwealth aircrews during the Second World War, turning out pilots, navigators, wireless operators and air gunners.
It has been owned by the Littler family since 1965 and is also home to the popular Wellesbourne Market.