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Airfield escapes housing plans.

Byline: Enda Mullen Business Staffenda.mullen@trinitymirror.com

MEMBERS of South Warwickshire Flying Club have breathed a sigh of relief after plans to build 1,600 homes at Wellesbourne Airfield were rejected. One of the Midlands' best-known airfields, Wellesbourne was under threat after its owners, the Littler family, put it forward as a potential site for new homes.

The bid had been submitted at the 11th hour by Gladman Developments for consideration as part of Stratford-on-Avon District Council's latest core strategy consultation, which will shape development in and around Stratford until 2031.

The submission, on the day the consultation closed in March, prompted alarm at South Warwickshire Flying School, which has been training pilots at the airfield since 1982.

But their fears were allayed after Stratford District Council's cabinet rejected it and voted unanimously in favour of recommending Gaydon and Lighthorne Heath as its preferred option for the location for a new town of around 3,000 homes.

Wellesbourne was among a number of alternative submissions, including Long Marston Airfield, all of which were rejected in favour of the Gaydon and Lighthorne Heath plan. The Wellesbourne scheme did not even make the final shortlist of five. The cabinet's preferred recommendation will now be put to a meeting of the full council on May 12.

The news was welcomed by South Warwickshire Flying School managing director Rodney Galiffe.

"Not being in the mix any more is very good news," he said. "It does remove the immediate threat and is a great relief to us - as it means we don't have to fight our cause."

Mr Galiffe said although the flying school had received indications the scheme would be unlikely to win support, due to its late submission, concerns remained until it had been formally rejected.

He added that the council might also have been reluctant to consider it due to the fact it would have an obligation to find another airfield for the flying club and other businesses based at Wellesbourne.

"They would have had to supply everyone with another airfield," he said. "This is an active aerodrome and by its own rules it would have to find somewhere else for us."

However, despite its rejection he warned that plans for housing on the airfield could be revived at a later date.

"It has been discontinued but in the years ahead this could come up again," he said. "I don't think anyone can be complacent once it has come up." He added: "Developers and planners could try to bring it up again. Even though it is not on the list someone might apply at a later stage. I think we just have to be on our guard.

"But right now the members are very pleased."

As well as being home to the flying school Wellesbourne also houses RAF Vulcan bomber XM655. Although the aircraft no longer flies it is still a popular attraction.

The airfield is also the headquarters of HeliAir, the UK's largest light helicopter company and there are a number of other businesses based on the site. It is thought to employ up to 100 people directly and indirectly.

They would have had to supply everyone with another airfieldSouth Warwickshire Flying School managing director Rodney Galiffe

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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:May 8, 2014
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