7th Dec, 2016

No homes here - businesses at Wellesbourne Airfield celebrate flying future

Stratford Editorial 18th Jul, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

BUSINESSES at Wellesbourne Airfield are flying high after their livelihoods were safeguarded.

The future of the airfield – which is home to a cafe, flying schools, museum and other businesses – was under threat in December when eviction notices were served to businesses on the site as speculation mounted it could be sold to developers for housing. There were rumoured plans for around 1,500 new homes.

But Stratford District Council recognised the airfield as an ‘important asset’ to the area by not including the site in its long delayed but recently rubber-stamped Core Strategy – the document outlining development plans in the district up to 2031.

Light aircraft from around the country use Wellesbourne as a refueling and rest stop, RAF scholarship cadets learn to fly at the airfield, and the airfield has also played host to the weekly Wellesbourne Market, which has been operating at the airfield for more than 40 years.

Rodney Galiffe, president of the South Warwickshire Flying School, which has been training pilots since 1982, said: “The airfield brings a lot of people to the area.

“There is the market on Saturday and Bank Holiday Mondays, people fly to Wellesbourne and people who are on courses here with us stay in the village.

“The RAF send us air cadets to get their pilots license too. If we don’t keep teaching these young people how to fly, it can’t continue.

“Air ambulance paramedics fly out from here, which not many people know. And people enjoy sitting at the cafe watching planes coming in and taking off.”

And Managing director of Take Flight Aviation, Mike Roberts also wanted to thank the council and campaign group Wellesbourne Matters for their support.

He added: “I would welcome working with the council to follow through the strategy to retain and enhance the airfield and legal process is now taking place to renew the business leases.

“It is also comforting to know that the council have not ruled out compulsory purchase should the owners think they can make some back door planning application by attempting to close the airfield or change it’s uses.

“What is both costly and disappointing is that we have paid the airfield owners millions of pound in rent and fuel sales over the last ten years, yet they refuse to offer any evidence as to why our lease should not be renewed and we have to resort to unnecessary legal process.”

The airfield’s history stretches back to 1941 when the Government bought 200 acres of farmland. RAF Wellesbourne Mountford was a training centre for British and Commonwealth aircrews during the Second World War, turning out pilots, navigators, wireless operators and air gunners.

The RAF sold the airfield back to the Littler Family in 1965.