Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council have now closed the 2015 Local Plan consultation and are reviewing the responses they received. They estimate it will take 2-3 months to process these – probably until sometime in June and they will then consider if changes will be made to the local plan.
A big thank you to everyone who submitted comments.
In the meantime, work has been ongoing on the future of General Aviation in the UK. At the end of March, the Department for Transport published their report into the state of GA in this country. The report can be found here.
As part of this review it was clear that more had to be done to protect airfields and maintain a strategic network around the country. The Department for Communities and Local Government has written to all council planning officers saying “Aviation makes a significant contribution to economic growth across the country, including in relation to small and medium sized airports and airfields (aerodromes). An aerodrome will form part of a larger network. Local planning authorities should have regard to the extent to which an aerodrome contributes to connectivity outside the authority’s own boundaries, working together with other authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships.” The GAAC, working with the DfT have created detailed planning recommendations which are being forwarded to planning authorities and they will also be a formal consultee on aerodromes with the authorities.
This article from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots magazine by Stephen Slater of the GAAC (Download here) summarises the developments
Welcome to Save Panshanger Airfield
The Closure and the next stage of the story
Mariposa Investments Limited, the owners of the Panshanger site have decided that they would not renew the lease to the North London Flying school ended on September 21st 2014. Following the sad demise in March of Dame Phyllis Somers - the widow of Nat Somers, the original owner of the site since 1953 - the trustees have decided to push for housing on the site.
The Mariposa trustees have become impatient waiting for the local plan to be decided and will be putting in a planning proposal to Welwyn Hatfield Council. This is separate from the local plan and will probably be decided before the local plan is finalised. To facilitate this application, they are going ahead with soil surveys and site preparation including destroying the WWII buildings. This is a scare tactic, because there is no certainty they will receive planning permission for housing (at least not if we can help it!) If permission is refused, it will be on the basis that an airfield is more important in this location than housing and the planning status of an airfield will remain, so the aerodrome could be reinstated.
Panshanger People with the support of the local and the aviation community will continue to campaign for its removal from the local plan and the reinstallation of an airfield here. The site is in an ideal location for a GA airfield with good transport links to North London and Hertfordshire and has remained buoyant throughout the recession. There are almost no airfields in the crowded South East which are not under planning pressures and if they disappear one by one, due to the short sighted action of local councils and the greed of land owners, GA in this country will die. Under more enlightened ownership and with visionary local planners, the airfield could support several small aviation related businesses as well as the flying school and provide additional transport options for local businesses. A significant asset to Welwyn Garden City.
We Need Your Money
We have commissioned work from Planning experts to help put our case to the local council and will certainly need more professional help in the future, all of which costs money. So please help us Save Panshanger for the future by donating to our funds on the Contact us page. The work we have already commissioned cost £9600 and that is just the start.
Local Plan consultation and the Mariposa planning proposal.
Welwyn Hatfield Council will be holding another consultation on the local plan in January 2015 this year at which people will be able to submit comments. We will post guidelines about the key issues to comment on in, so please sign up to our members email list and we will alert you directly. We want to make sure every comment is relevant and tells the council exactly why they shouldn’t build houses on the airfield site. We also want to demonstrate that the site has a commercial future as a thriving airfield and is an economic and social asset for Welwyn Garden City.
The Mariposa Planning proposal will also need to go out to consultation and we will need your help to oppose this too. It is possible that the proposal will go through at the same time as the local plan consultation, so we may have to ask you to comment on both at once.