By John Walker, GAAC and AOPA UK Board Member.
(Updated 15 June 2017)


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 proposals completed in August 2016 with definitive Local Plan to be issued for final consultation on 16 June 2017.


Balfour-Beatty has sold their 95% interest in the airport operating company to Regional & City Airports.  Enterprise Zone status granted for the land on the north side of the airport which 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 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).  Site is included in South Oxfordshire District draft Local Plan second Preferred Site Options consultation document for a 3,000 home development.


Site accepted under the Government’s Garden Village scheme for development with around 1,250 homes which development is supported by the Brudenell Estate, the site owner.    Full public consultation expected in Summer 2017 leading to a site masterplan in support of a planning application later in 2017.


Planning application for mixed use development with 1,800 homes on site approved by Waverley Borough Council on 14 December 2016.  Local Parish Council representations have  caused the application to be called in for a Public Inquiry starting on 18 July 2017.


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.  Consultation period ended in September and draft Local Plan was due to be released in December 2016 for further consultation but has been delayed whilst the Council consider 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 site under Government scheme. Tenants advised later of proposal and public consultations started in February 2017 with submission of planning application due in late 2017.

Halfpenny Green (Wolverhampton Business Airport)

Aerodrome 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.


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 masterplan.


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 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 site granted in November 2015.  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 provision for an airstrip allowing occasional landings by Spitfire aircraft in conjunction with existing museums.  The result of a full Planning Inquiry into a different application by another party for change of use of existing airport buildings is awaited.  The Council commissioned a study into the future of the site as an airport for commercial operations in support of their Local Plan submission for mixed use development and this study concluded that such operations were not viable.

MoD Sites

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;  Mildenhall 2022;  Molesworth 2023;  North Luffenham  2021;  Woodbridge, Rock Barracks  2027.

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 proposal for up to 4,500 homes on site. Site earmarked in draft Huntingdonshire District Council Local Plan for mixed use development including housing but road infrastructure issues expected to result in scheme being deferred beyond Local Plan period.

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 land owner, site earmarked for up to 4,000 homes in Local Plan Core Strategy adopted by Rushcliffe Borough Council after approval from Planning Inspector.

Old Sarum

Site owner’s proposal for housing development and 10 additional hangars amongst other work, objected to by various parties as detrimental to the sites heritage and potentially limiting use of the airfield.  After prolonged discussion with Wiltshire Council, the proposal has been amended to delete the on-airfield accommodation and the Council are waiting for a viability study on the amended proposal before deciding the application.


Site originally earmarked for housing by Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council but final draft Local Plan reduces housing element and allows the opportunity for a realigned grass runway on land to north of previous runway 11/29.   Final draft Local Plan submitted to Planning Inspector for Public Examination.

Peterborough / Sibson

Expression of Interest submitted to HCA by Huntingdonshire District Council in conjunction with Larkfleet Homes and landowner for a 2,500 home Garden Village on site.  Bid was unsuccessful resulting in the Council withdrawing their support for it.  However, Central 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, have 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 Summer 2017 to a Planning Inspector for Public Examination.


Site land owner and Thakeham Homes, a local housing developer are discussing with local planning authorities (Tandridge and Reigate and Banstead Councils) a proposal for a 4,500 home garden community on the site.  Tandridge draft Local Plan earmarks site 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 a 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”.  Tenants previously notified by owner that flying activities will 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 owners permitted development rights for the airfield and is seeking to negotiate a possible purchase of the site.

Wycombe Air Park 

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

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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