By John Walker, GAAC and AOPA Board Member. Updated 17 March 2017.


Braintree, Colchester and Tendring Councils are cooperating 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. The public consultation on the proposals was completed in August 2016 and a definitive Local Plan is due to be issued for further consultation in Spring 2017.


Balfour-Beatty has sold its 95% 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. This area 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 is the subject of examination by a Planning Inspector with specific hearings on the proposals for Bourn airfield fixed for April 2017.


Site accepted under the Government’s Garden Village scheme for development with around 1,250 homes. The development is supported by the Brudenell Estate, the site owner.  A full public consultation is expected in May / June 2017, leading to a site masterplan in support of a planning application.


Planning application for mixed-use development with 1,800 homes on the site was approved by Waverley Borough Council on 14 December 2016. As a result of Local Parish Councils’ joint request to Central Government, the application has been called in for a full Public Inquiry


York City Council’s 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. The consultation period ended in September and the draft Local Plan was due to be released in December 2016 for further consultation. However it has been delayed while the Council considers the planning implications of the recently announced closure of MoD barracks within the Council area.


Surrey Heath Council made a confidential, unsuccessful bid to establish a garden village with 1,500 homes on the site under the Government’s scheme. Tenants were advised later of the proposal and public consultations started in February 2017. Submission of the planning application is expected 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, resulting in much speculation about the future of the site. MCR is in the early stages of planning for the future of the airport.


Commercial Estates Group (CEG) revealed a proposal to build a 2,000 home sustainable village on this “Brownfield” site as an alternative to the draft Cotswold District Local Plan, which proposed a greenfield site near Cirencester. The public consultation on the draft Local Plan has been completed and the definitive Plan was due to be submitted to Planning Inspector in Autumn 2016, but has been delayed to allow further consultation on proposed, unrelated changes to the draft Plan.

Long Marston    

Planning permission for 400 homes on the site was granted in November 2015. The airfield is in the Stratford-upon-Avon adopted planning Core Strategy for housing, which includes up to 2,100 homes by 2031, and has Garden Village approval.  The developer is Cala Homes in conjunction with the site owner. (Refer to entry for Wellesbourne below).


River Oak has given notice of its intent to apply for a Development Consent Order for the aerodrome as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project. The current site owners have submitted a planning application to Thanet District Council for a mixed use development with land earmarked as a park, allowing occasional landings by Spitfire aircraft in conjunction with existing museums. A different application by another party for change of use of airport buildings is the subject of a full Planning Inquiry. The Council commissioned a study into the future of the site as an airport for commercial operations in support of its Local Plan submission for mixed use development, and this study concluded that such operations were not viable.

Nottingham City (Tollerton)  

With the support of the land owner, the site has been earmarked for up to 4,000 homes in the Local Plan Core Strategy adopted by Rushcliffe Borough Council after approval was received from the Planning Inspector.

Old Sarum  

The site owner’s proposal for housing development and 10 additional hangars, among other work, was objected to by various parties as detrimental to the site’s heritage and potentially limiting use of the airfield. After prolonged discussion with Wiltshire County 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 whether to approve 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 the opportunity for a realigned grass runway on land to north of previous runway, 11/29. A Definitive Local Plan is due to be submitted in Spring 2017 to the Planning Inspector for public examination.

Peterborough / Sibson    

An expression of interest was submitted to the Housing and Communities Agency (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.


A Government study issued on 16th December 2016, which examined the consultancy report on reopening the airport for commercial passenger services, stated that this is not a viable commercial option. 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 will be submitted in April 2017 to a Planning Inspector for public examination.


The site landowner and Thakeham Homes, a local housing developer, are discussing with local planning authorities (Tandridge Council and Reigate & Banstead Council) a proposal for a 4,500 home garden community on the site. The Tandridge draft Local Plan earmarks the site for employment purposes and notes that it is in the Green Belt with a high risk of surface water flooding.


A Judicial Review Consent Order required Medway Council to review planning approval for a hard runway, new hangars and a new control tower.  An amended planning application deleting the hard runway and the new control tower was approved by the Council’s Planning Committee on 15th March 2017. Enterprise Zone status was granted for the commercial part of the proposed site development.

Wellesbourne Mountford  

Gladman Developments, in conjunction with the owner, have proposed a housing development with 1,600 homes on the site, although the Stratford-upon-Avon Local Plan Core Strategy has earmarked Long Marston airfield as the preferred housing development site. The Core Strategy, after approval by a Planning Inspector, has been adopted by the Council and states that “The aviation related functions at Wellesbourne Airfield will have been retained and enhanced.” Airfield tenants were notified by the owner last year that flying activities would cease in December 2016, but the airfield will now remain 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    

Site leaseholder, Helicopter Aircraft Holdings Ltd., has agreed a new lease with the land owner, Wycombe District Council. The Draft Local Plan provides for an industrial / warehousing complex on the south-eastern part of the site, resulting in the loss of a runway and relocation of gliding activities.  The Council expects to submit a final draft plan for public consultation in April / May 2017.

MoD Sites

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

Abingdon 2029;  Alconbury 2023;  Arbroath,  RMB Condor airfield 2020;  Brawdy, Cawdor Barracks 2024;

Chalgrove airfield, occupied and operated by Martin-Baker Aircraft, has been transferred from the MoD to the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA). The site is one of seven being considered for a 3,500 home development in South Oxfordshire District draft Local Plan with a second Preferred Site Options consultation planned for March 2017.

RMB Chivenor 2027;  Colerne 2018;  Dishforth airfield 2031;  RAF Halton airfield 2022;  RAF Henlow 2020;

Hullavington airfield has been sold to Dyson Ltd which intends to preserve the existing on-site hangars;

Mildenhall 2022;  Molesworth 2023;  North Luffenham  2021;

Former RAF Wethersfield airfield is being transferred to the HCA in 2020.

In addition to the above, RAF Wyton airfield is being sold off – The Defence Infrastructure Organisation and local property developer Crest Nicholson have published a proposal for up to 4,500 homes on the site with a planning application expected to be lodged in early 2017. The site is earmarked in the draft Huntingdonshire District Council Local Plan for mixed use development including housing.

If you have any questions on the above please e-mail Ian Sheppard,, or phone 01737 821409 / 07759 455770.

Ian Sheppard

Ian Sheppard is an aviation journalist and pilot based at Redhill Aerodrome, near London Gatwick Airport. Ian graduated in aeronautical engineering from the University of Bath in 1992, and after postgraduate studies in avionics and flight dynamics at Cranfield, worked for the Royal Aeronautical Society in the 90s. He has been a reporter for Flight International and Aviation International News, where he is currently Senior Editor - International, and News Editor for GA Buyer Europe magazine. Before that he edited AOPA UK's magazine, the ERA magazine and African Aerospace. Ian worked for Airclaims, 2000-4, before gaining legal qualifications, but decided to continue in aviation media rather than become a lawyer. He has a CPL and FI having originally learned to fly in 1991.
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