4 September 2017

By John Walker (GAAC and AOPA Board Member)


Braintree, Colchester and Tendring Councils are co-operating in developing a Local Plan for north-east Essex and have identified Andrewsfield airfield as one of three sites for potential housing in a new Garden City with 10,000 homes. Public consultation on a definitive Local Plan ended on 28 July 2017, and comments are currently being processed.


Balfour-Beatty has sold its 95 percent interest in the airport operating company to Regional & City Airports. Enterprise Zone status has been granted for the land on the north side of the airport, an area which encompasses the domestic facilities of the old airport. Recent statements from the Zone proprietors indicate that they are relying on the airport to attract businesses. The emerging Local Plan for the area retains the airport’s existing aviation facilities.


Site earmarked for 3,200 homes in current draft Local Plan by South Cambridgeshire District Council. The draft Plan was the subject of examination by a Planning Inspector with specific hearings on the proposals for Bourn airfield held on 4 April 2017.


Airfield occupied and operated by Martin-Baker Aircraft has been transferred from the MoD to the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).  The site is included in the South Oxfordshire District draft Local Plan having been part of the second Preferred Site Options consultation document, for a 3,000 home development. Public consultation on a definitive Local Plan is expected to start in October 2017.


The site has been accepted under the Government’s Garden Village scheme for development with around 1,250 homes, with the proposed development being supported by the Brudenell Estate, the site owner.  A full public consultation is expected in Summer 2017 leading to a site master plan in support of a planning application later in 2017.


A planning application for a mixed-use development with 1,800 homes on the site was approved by Waverley Borough Council on 14 December 2016. Local Parish Council representations caused the application to be called in for a Public Inquiry, which ended on 3 August 2017.


The York City Council Local Plan Preferred Sites Consultation document issued in July 2016 includes a development of up to 3,330 dwellings, partly occupying the middle section of the Elvington airfield runway.  Development of the Local Plan delayed while the Council consider the planning implications of the closure of MoD barracks within the Council area after which further site consultation planned to start in September 2017.


Surrey Heath Council made a confidential, unsuccessful bid to establish a Garden Village with 1,500 homes on the site under the Government scheme.  Tenants were advised later of the proposal and public consultations started in February 2017, with submission of a planning application due in late 2017.

Halfpenny Green (Wolverhampton Business Airport)  

The aerodrome was sold to MCR Property Group an investment and development company focused on commercial and residential real estate.  The Group expect to complete an initial study by Autumn 2017 of future airport income and investment that reportedly excludes housing on the site.


The former RAF Hullavington airfield site has been sold to Dyson Ltd who have submitted a planning application to renovate two existing Type D hangars as a prelude to producing a site master plan.


Commercial Estates Group (CEG) proposal to build a 2,000 home sustainable village on this ‘brownfield’ site as an alternative to the draft Cotswold District Local Plan proposal for a greenfield site near Cirencester.  Public consultation on the draft Local Plan has been completed and definitive Plan was submitted to a Planning Inspector in June 2017.

Long Marston

Airfield is in Stratford-on-Avon adopted planning Core Strategy for housing with up to 2,100 homes by 2031 and has Garden Village approval.  Developer is Cala Homes in conjunction with site owner.  Refer to entry for Wellesbourne below.


River Oak has given notice of intent to apply for a Development Consent Order for the aerodrome as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project.  The site owners have submitted a planning application to Thanet District Council for a mixed use development with an airstrip allowing occasional landings by Spitfire aircraft in conjunction with existing museums. A recent Planning Inquiry dismissed appeals concerning different planning applications for change of use of existing airport buildings which applications have been effectively refused. A Council commissioned study into the future of the site as a commercial airport in support of their Local Plan submission for mixed use development concluded that such operations were not viable.

MoD Sites

The MOD document A Better Defence Estate, issued on 7 November 2016, lists the following aerodrome sites for disposal in the years indicated:

Abingdon 2029;  Alconbury 2023;  Arbroath,  RMB Condor airfield 2020;  Brawdy, Cawdor Barracks 2024;  RMB Chivenor 2027;  Colerne 2018;  Dishforth airfield 2031;  RAF Halton airfield 2022;  RAF Henlow 2020 – site earmarked for mixed use development in Central Bedfordshire Council draft Local Plan;  Mildenhall 2022;  Molesworth 2023;  North Luffenham  2021;  Woodbridge, Rock Barracks 2027.

The former RAF Wethersfield airfield site is being transferred to the HCA in 2020.
RAF Wyton airfield is being sold off – the Defence Infrastructure Organisation and local property developer Crest Nicholson proposal for up to 4,500 homes on site.  Due to road infrastructure issues, the site has been deleted from Huntingdonshire District Council’s definitive 2036 Local Plan for mixed use development, including housing.

North Denes   

The airfield (also known as Yarmouth Heliport), with two grass runways, has been put up for sale having been disused since 2015 on the cessation of North Sea helicopter operations.

Nottingham City (Tollerton)  

With the support of the landowner, the site has been earmarked for up to 4,000 homes in the Local Plan Core Strategy adopted by Rushcliffe Borough Council after approval from Planning Inspector.  A public consultation on a final draft Local Plan is expected later this year.

Old Sarum

The site owner’s proposal for a housing development and 10 additional hangars, among other work, was objected to by various parties who say it would be detrimental to the site’s heritage, and potentially limit use of the airfield. After prolonged discussion with Wiltshire Council, the proposal has been amended to delete the on-airfield accommodation and the Council is waiting for a viability study on the amended proposal before deciding the application.


The site was originally earmarked for housing by Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council but the final draft Local Plan reduces the housing element and allows for the opportunity to establish a realigned grass runway on land to north of the previous runway, 11/29. The final draft Local Plan submitted to the Planning Inspector for Public Examination commencing on 21 September 2017. Local press report that a planning application to restore the aerodrome is expected shortly.

Peterborough / Sibson

An Expression of Interest was submitted to HCA by Huntingdonshire District Council, in conjunction with Larkfleet Homes and the landowner, for a 2,500 home Garden Village on the site.  The bid was unsuccessful, resulting in the Council withdrawing its support for the plan. However, the Government may call for further Expressions of Interest for Garden Villages in 2017.


FlyPlymouth, a local social enterprise aerodrome support group, plans to reopen the airfield and start regional airliner services. Sutton Harbour Holdings, the site lease holder, has proposed a mixed-use development of the site although the draft Local Plan retains the site for aviation. The final draft Plymouth City / South West Devon Joint Local Plan was submitted on 31 July 2017 to a Planning Inspector for public examination.


Land owner and Thakeham Homes, a local housing developer, has proposed a 4,500 home garden village on the site. Tandridge District Council is holding a public consultation on four potential garden village sites, which is due to end on 9 October 2017. The Draft Local Plan earmarks Redhill for employment purposes and notes that it is in the Green Belt, with a high risk of surface water flooding.

Wellesbourne Mountford

Gladman Developments, in conjunction with the owner, have proposed a housing development with 1,600 homes on the site although the Stratford-on-Avon Local Plan Core Strategy has earmarked Long Marston airfield as its preferred housing development site. The Core Strategy (after approval by a Planning Inspector) has been adopted by the Council and states, “The aviation related functions at Wellesbourne Airfield will have been retained and enhanced.”  Tenants were notified last year by the owner that flying activities would cease in December 2016, but the airfield remains open pending the result of court action by the tenants to obtain new leases. The District Council has formally rescinded the owner’s permitted development rights for the airfield and is seeking to negotiate a possible purchase of the site.

Wycombe Air Park

The site lease holder (Helicopter Aircraft Holdings Ltd) has agreed new leases with the land owner, Wycombe District Council (WDC). The Draft Local Plan provides for an industrial / warehousing complex on the south-eastern part of the site, which will result in the loss of a runway and relocation of gliding activities. WDC expects to submit its final draft plan for public consultation in October / November 2017.

Ian Sheppard

Ian Sheppard is a director of First Aerospace Media, based at Redhill Aerodrome near Gatwick. A graduate in Aeronautical Engineering, Ian was an aviation journalist and editor for many years, including editing AOPA UK's magazine for two years. He has a Graduate Diploma Law and completed the Legal Practice Course at the University of Law. Ian has an FAA PPL and EASA/CAA CPL with Flight Instructor Rating.
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