Primarily for general aviation discussion, but other aviation topics are also welcome.
#1684658
Just received the following via e-mail.

I couldn't possibly add to what has been said previously and repeated here other than to say that landing fees could be the least of our gripes in the long term.



There’s good news and bad news as the David and Goliath battle to Save Wellesbourne airfield continues.

Wellesbourne Airfield, one of the busiest General Aviation Airports in the country, remains under threat with the Landlords attempting to remove the business tenants through the courts even despite that the local authority have vowed and now confirmed the Compulsory Purchase of the site in order to protect it.

Today the tenants lost their appeal for new tenancies at the airfield. Mr Justice Bliss in the High Court of Justice on 25th March 2019 dismissed the appeal allowing the previous judgement to end the tenants tenancies at the airfield to stand, meaning that tenants could have to vacate the airfield in as little as three months and twenty-one days.

Despite this on Monday 11th March 2019 Stratford-on-Avon District Council Cabinet approved a report to make, confirm and implement a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) to acquire Wellesbourne Airfield to continue its aviation use and develop the site as an airfield. However the CPO will take time to progress and the tenants may have left the airfield and the airfield could be closed before the council own it.

Clearly the planning policy which is abundantly clear, has again been misinterpreted by the judge and it cannot be fair, reasonable or in the public interest to continue with the eviction of the tenants.

The local authority and the tenants have asked the landlords for temporary tenancies whilst the CPO continues which has been denied. It was even put to the judge that a temporary tenancy should be allowed whilst the CPO was made as clearly as this would be in the public interest, but this was also denied. The Landlords have shown no compassion for tenants who have provided them with a income for many years.

In a press release dated 11th March 2019 the District Council said it had already investigated how the airfield would be managed in the future. It is very clear therefore, that the airfield will have a continued aviation use in the future and therefore the Landlords have no prospect of obtaining planning permission for demolition, as was their case.

A previous press release from the local authority dated 2nd July 2018 confirmed that the District Council had begun CPO proceedings. The leader of the council stated: -
“Wellesbourne Airfield is an important facility within Stratford-on-Avon district. There is a clear policy position under the District Council’s adopted Core Strategy 2011-2031 that the site be preserved for aviation purposes.”

“The actions of Littler Investments Limited in terminating the leases of the businesses operating on the site, wishing to demolish existing buildings on the site and the agreements with Gladman Developments Limited are in direct opposition to the policy position.”

“The District Council has now decided to use its CPO powers in order to maintain the current planning use of the site.”

“The District Council has also requested that the businesses on the site be given temporary tenancies to preserve the livelihood of the 100 employees (44 full-time and 60 part-time).”

The cost of the appeal has cost the tenants over £125,000 in legal fees and they will now be responsible for the other side costs as well, both from the appeal and the previous judgement.

The cost of fighting the case against the Landlords backed by major developers is disproportionate to the income of most of the small businesses on the airfield. This is what the Landlords and backers are relying on, doing everything they can on the way to increase legal costs, but they had not expected the resilience of the tenants and their supporters at Wellesbourne and the widen aviation community.

Unfortunately, the tenants own legal costs and the potential of paying the Landlords legal costs have forced four businesses out of the fight or sign agreements to leave Wellesbourne. This leaves the four remaining businesses fighting, South Warwickshire Flying School, Take Flight Aviation, Touchdown Café and Warwickshire Aviation with legal costs and potential legal costs of over a quarter of a million pounds or more. In addition to this poor fortune, all the businesses left in the battle to save the airfield were mysteriously broken into and ransacked last year!

Let’s face it, if one of the country’s busiest GA airfields that has the full support of the local authority is at risk, this really could set the precedent and the thin end of the wedge for GA in the UK.

As with the Biblical story of David and Goliath, the tenants at Wellesbourne airfield are not just fighting for their own personal agenda, but for what is right and for the future of General Aviation in the UK. The tenants first two battles may have been lost, but the war is by no means over!

Please support the tenants and the continuing fight to Save Wellesbourne and pass the message along to fellow aviators.

Next step The Court of Appeal but we really need some serious help!

Got your own great idea?



https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/savewellesbourneairfield
#1684663
KeithM wrote:Clearly the planning policy which is abundantly clear, has again been misinterpreted by the judge and it cannot be fair, reasonable or in the public interest to continue with the eviction of the tenants.


The author misunderstands the situation.

The tenancies of the businesses and the CPO are, in law, unrelated matters.

The landowner has opted not to grant new tenancies to the businesses. Within a certain framework, that is their right. The fact that in the not-too-distant future the landowner may no longer be the landowner is not relevant to this.

It looks like spoiling to me. If we can't build houses and have our big payday, then we'll ensure that the airfield you so desperately want isn't worth having. Might be shooting themselves in the foot a bit though, because the CPO valuation will be as an airfield and if it's closed then the value will be lower than if it's active. Sad situation for the based businesses, but I'm sure someone (possibly the same people) will have another go once the CPO has happened.
#1684689
defcribed wrote:
KeithM wrote:Clearly the planning policy which is abundantly clear, has again been misinterpreted by the judge and it cannot be fair, reasonable or in the public interest to continue with the eviction of the tenants.


The author misunderstands the situation.

The tenancies of the businesses and the CPO are, in law, unrelated matters.

The landowner has opted not to grant new tenancies to the businesses. Within a certain framework, that is their right. The fact that in the not-too-distant future the landowner may no longer be the landowner is not relevant to this.

It looks like spoiling to me. If we can't build houses and have our big payday, then we'll ensure that the airfield you so desperately want isn't worth having. Might be shooting themselves in the foot a bit though, because the CPO valuation will be as an airfield and if it's closed then the value will be lower than if it's active. Sad situation for the based businesses, but I'm sure someone (possibly the same people) will have another go once the CPO has happened.



I very much doubt (with very good reason) that the author has misunderstood insofar as the differing legal aspects of tenancies and the CPO are concerned, if that is your point, and I have neither read nor heard any statement which might suggest that this is the case.

Also, your phrase "within a certain framework" regarding landlord/tenants rights is precisely but one aspect of the current legal debate, as I understand it, and as has been outlined in previous statements by the tenants during the campaign.

That said, I, and many others, would share entirely the views expressed in your final paragraph. The concern, however, is the length of time that it can, apparently, take for the CPO process to be completed. It could be several years. Currently, we seem to have a supportive District Council and a few very determined and visionary people. Whether or not that can, or will, endure remains to be seen.

The only certainty for the remaining tenants is the high legal costs involved, hence the ongoing appeals for assistance with funding!
#1684710
Keith,

My point is that the fact that your landlord is about to get CPOd doesn't mean you're automatically entitled to another lease. For the writer to suggest that the whole situation ought to be viewed in its entirety and their tenure extended simply because the landlord won't be the landlord for much longer is wrong and has no basis in law.
#1684750
defcribed wrote:Keith,

My point is that the fact that your landlord is about to get CPOd doesn't mean you're automatically entitled to another lease. For the writer to suggest that the whole situation ought to be viewed in its entirety and their tenure extended simply because the landlord won't be the landlord for much longer is wrong and has no basis in law.


I think that your interpretation of current matters is somewhat inaccurate. Nobody is suggesting automatic entitlement to anything as far as I can see. I believe that the tenants were simply making a perfectly understandable request given the circumstances. Also, one of the tenants happens also to be a commercial property developer and the tenants, I believe, also have their own legal experts.

The entirety, as I understand it, refers to a number of matters including tenant and landlord rights and planning policy, both local and national.

The question is whether or not some, or any, of this stuff is worth the paper it is written on which in turn raises concerns about an apparent commitment to protect our GA airfields.
#1684891
defcribed wrote:You fundamentally misunderstand the purpose of the court and the entire premise upon which our legal system is based.


I am not a lawyer but I am fully aware of the complexities of the law, in all matters, not just this one. I do not believe that I have said anything to suggest otherwise, as you again infer.

Any criticisms or observations might, therefore, be more appropriately addressed to those directly involved, i.e. the tenants and their legal team.

My sole purpose is in passing on information about the ongoing threat to the future of Wellesbourne Airfield something which, it seems, the CPO does not necessarily remove if the infrastructure is allowed to decay, however legally, in the meantime.

As you say, there is a “spoiling” tactic probably involved here, hence the need for ongoing support from within the GA community. Without such support, the “public interest” argument, in my view, is potentially weakened rather than strengthened.
#1684949
Mr Justice Bliss's ruling appears to be contrary to the Supreme Court ruling in December 2018 in S Franses Ltd v The Cavendish Hotel (London) Ltd [url](https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/docs/ ... ummary.pdf)[/url] in December 2018. Which in summary rules that landlords now need to demonstrate a fixed intention to carry out development or demolition works, whether or not the tenant leaves.

In this case, as the Planning Authority have made clear that they will not consent to redevelopment and will therefore presumably not permit demolition - for which as I understand it the landowner's usual PD rights have been specifically removed - it seems to me that the landlord will be unable to establish that clear fixed intention to demolish.
#1685043
TouringTuggy wrote:Mr Justice Bliss's ruling appears to be contrary to the Supreme Court ruling in December 2018 in S Franses Ltd v The Cavendish Hotel (London) Ltd [url](https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/docs/ ... ummary.pdf)[/url] in December 2018. Which in summary rules that landlords now need to demonstrate a fixed intention to carry out development or demolition works, whether or not the tenant leaves.

In this case, as the Planning Authority have made clear that they will not consent to redevelopment and will therefore presumably not permit demolition - for which as I understand it the landowner's usual PD rights have been specifically removed - it seems to me that the landlord will be unable to establish that clear fixed intention to demolish.


Indeed!

In fact, it is my understanding that the Wellesbourne tenants’ legal team had knowledge of the very case that you quote and I would be surprised if it did not form part of their recent appeal.

There is much about this case, and recent judgements, which is questionable when everything is taken into account.

From my perspective, it seems to be a matter of private interest and public interest where, thus far, the Landowner and the developers, in isolation, appear to be entirely focused on the former despite the clear and widespread opposition to their apparent intentions.

I also strongly suspect that without the resilience of the tenants and support from the local community the District Council might not have instigated CPO proceedings and Wellesbourne Airfield might well have permanently ceased operations months ago.

Irrespective of the CPO proceedings, the tenants remain on the front line in this battle in order to maintain activity at the airfield. From the outset, the Landowner has been clearly trying to prevent this, first by threatening to demolish buildings and now by again refusing to even offer temporary tenancies.

The fight is, by no means, over and we cannot afford to be complacent.

The remaining tenants still need our support.
#1686212
I couldn't find the court report for the Wellesbourne case, but reading the summary of Franses v Cavendish, I am not sure what the inconsistency is? I hate to be the voice of pessimism, and I really have no idea of UK plannng law, but looking a the Frances v Cavendish summary:
The reason why the landlord’s approach cannot satisfy ground (f) is not merely the conditionality of its intention to do the proposed works, but the nature of the condition.


I am guessing the conditionality being asserted (for Wellesbourne) is the condition of being granted planning permission. As I mentioned, I can't find the court reports of the Wellesbourne case, but the court in the first instance, based on press reports, seems to have accepted planning permission is likely.

Either way, it may not be a factor (or more accurately, would be discounted as factor), as:
Ground (f) assumes that the landlord’s intention to demolish or reconstruct the premises is obstructed by the tenant’s occupation
....
which precludes finding that ground (f) has been satisfied if the works can reasonably be carried out by exercising a right of entry that the tenant is willing to include in the terms of the new tenancy

I think the above is pretty self explanatory - the demolition and/or construction has to be obstructed by the tenant entering or exercising a right of entry; If the works can continue with while the tenant is in posession, then ground (f) would not be available to the landlord.

It follows that the landlord’s intention to carry out the works cannot be conditional on whether the tenant chooses to assert his claim to a new tenancy. The intention to demolish or reconstruct the premises must exist independently of the tenant’s statutory claim to a new tenancy
....
[In allowing the appeal, the reason stated is] The entire value of the proposed scheme lies in removing the tenant and not in any benefit to be derived from reconstruction itself"


The first bit is essentially saying, if the work is only planned if the tenant asserts their rights, then it is not a clear intention to proceed with the works and therefore gound (f) could not be relied upon. If the intention is indepdendent of the tenant's assertion of their rights, then it is, as far as the Franses case is concerned, ground (f) can be relied upoin.

The second bit is to say that the value of the development was to get the tenant out, not to derive any value from the development itself and this is not independent of the assertion of the tenants statutory rights and therefore ground (f) does not apply resulting in allowing the appeal.

Later, there is some obiter dicta on how the utility of the works could be used to help form intent..

But.. are people telling me that the Littler Family are only going to mow down the current buildings, sell the property to thedevelopers and the developers build houses if the tenants assert their rights - otherwise if the tenants don't assert their rights, the airfield will be left to rack and ruin? And that there is no no value to be derived to the Littler Family/Developers from the sale of the land to the developers and the developers building of however many houses? The Franses case doesn't mentioned lilelihood of obtaining any other legal prerequisites (or other, such as financing, etc).. it speaks only to the fact that the intenion under ground (f) is effectively discounted if the action is not independent of effectively evicting the tenants.

In the absence of any other knowledge on the subject, and I am sure the legal teams of the tenants are far brighter than me, I would think it would be tenuous at best to rely on Franses. I am sure there are other points of law to bring into it.

But another angle may be to look to get an injunction on the Littler family from evicting the tenants based on the fact that CPO proceedings have been launched to procure an active airfield and that to protect the potential state and value of the purchase to the Council of the land as an active airfield, it is necessary to preserve the current tenants - or at least allow other aviation related business tenants to occupy the buildings should any of the incumbent tenants fail; This would preserve the value of the CP to the council and the community as a whole. The council would probably be the entity with the best locus standi, and therefore be the best to apply.

As mentioned, I am no lawyer and certainly have no idea of planning law - or the law around CPOs as well..

But, it's just a thought.
#1686281
I am no lawyer or planning expert either and whilst the legalities might be complex, it seems to me that the principles involved are abundantly clear.

We have a local community, district council and businesses wishing to protect an existing and viable public amenity versus a landowner wishing to offload it for maximum financial gain i.e. by achieving planning permission for housing development which, currently, the council is not willing to grant to the extent of instigating CPO proceedings.

In the face of an apparent national concern about loss of GA airfields and an apparent commitment to prevent further decline, it begs the question as to whose legal rights should (or will) be prioritised in this case and which principles will eventually be supported and upheld.
#1686412
I want to be quite clear - I don't support any redevelpment of thiriving (or to be honest, those struggling, too) airfields on the basis of what was claimed to be a mistake by "two-Jags", although if it was a mistake - surely parliament would have recitified it by now... especially since there is an APPG for GA that is fighting for it. This has been going on for longer than Brexit, so the excuse that Brexit is diverting all important parliamentary time doesn't apply here..

But, I am afraid I don't agree with your analysis. Let me put it another way.. We have A council and some businsesses (i.e. those on the airfield -and maybe those related or operating in the same market segment) and of course, some of the population wanting to preserve the airfield for their vested interests.We can extrapolate this on a macro basis into a number of current councils (definitely not all - and may change based on who is running the council at any one time and a number of current communities (usually who don't aupport or actively oppose the airfield until the redevelopment plans are lodged, as they see the airfield as the lesser of the two evils) who may support a concern.. i..e a concern only.. not a law.

On the other hand, there are plenty of businesses who will support the closure of the airfield for be redeveloped - Obviously, the Littler family and whoever the develper is, but the building contractors, builder merchants and various other businesses that stand to gain. Granted, most communities are tired of ever increasing new estates, but many of what will become new communities will love them (at least until it is their turn to be built out)..

My point is, the law is the law and courts don't give that much regard to public opinon, especially where that opinon is divided. Yes, there has been overturning/modification of existing or finding of new common laws as society develops - but that is the point - as society develops not because there is simply some opinion one way and some the other.

For example, in R v Clarence (1889), it basically stated that marital rape is not a crime (not even that being married is a defence).. In R v R (1992), obviously society had moved on and it was found that it was now a crime. Marital rape was omly ever considered in common law and not in the Offences Against the Persons Act 1881, and therefore, it was in the (higher) courts power to say, effectively, in today's world, it is repugnant to society and therefore a crime.

But when there is legislation, the courts become somewhat restricted. They have some mechanisms to interpret what the legilsation means based on the facts of a case, and where cases of similar facts are presented to the courts, the courts will adopt the interpretations prior (unless the difference is enough to warrant a slightly different interpretation). For example, in Pepper v Hart (1992), it was held that, to assist with interpretation, a judge can refer to hansard to infer what was meant - but only based on what the minister/secretary of state for the department responsible for the bill/act said - not what anyone said.

There are other devices as well.. I can't go into them. The point is, the judges judge on law - not public opinion, policy, etc.

In the Franses v Cavendish case (which is actually about property/tenancy law and not planning), the leading judgement was clear that the motivation of the development was irrelevant. To take it to it's logical conclusion - the court does not care that someone is there to maximise their financial gain; in fact a court is likely to accept that as a bons fide reason as it is rare (or more accurately in the minotirty of times) people/businesses enter into transactions to minimise their financial gain.

The Franses case also doesn't address whether the effective eviction of tenants (or blocking whatever their statutory right is to continue the lease) is dependent on any legal approvals that have to be achieved. It merely states that the intention has to be manifest and independent of the tenants taking or seeking to take possession by way of their statutory rights.

Enough legal BS, because I could go on for hours (and I havbe hours of study to do.. music to one forumite's ears until I say it is not the POH and other manuals, but.. ahem.. it is legal).

The crux is, it is time to stop looking at this through lofty ambitions, which are policy and the general good of the people (through our lens - as others will say more housing and the benefits it brings economically, etc are more for the good of the people). Let's look at it this way..

- The law is the law.. And while the courts do have some discretion, in heavily legislated areas such as this, they are very restricted)
- The courts won't look at a case and consider every type of law that will apply; They take the legal reasoning of the parties - the judge may well know there is other law that applies, but if it is not explicitly drawn to the court's attention in argument, then the court will not apply it.
- Take a wider view and see what other mechanisms are out there to acheive the ultimate goal. As an example, in the Tony Martin case (where he shot a 16 year old in the back after the kid, with another, broke into his house and was fleeing at the time, the defence were nuts to think the jury would acquit based on.. guess what... popular opinion... The law is very clear it was not surprising when 12 ordinary people, after hearing the facts, found him guilty. The legal team should have gone down the eventual route they tool - dimished responsibility. I was doing English criminal law at the time and all of us thought the same. In this case, planning law may allow the redevelopment; the tenancy law clearly allows for the non-renewal of leases; so look at alternatives. I had a look att eh CPO law today and it does not seem outside the timliens to get a temproary injunction pending a decision on the CPO..
- Look at all the threats and deal with them.. For example, for a CPO to be granted, it has to be shown to be in the public interest. For a pure GA airfield that does not offer regular CAT or some other substantial form of public amenity outside those directly involved in GA (the odd parent taking their kid down to watch the planes may not be substantial).. So, does it have emergency services based there or do they use it often; how does it genereate and distribute wealth into the local community; is there any form of charitable work there. Being a recreational facility and employer for a small segment of the population does not make it a public utility.
- I would not believe the reports that actually closing the airfield will be in the council's favour for a CPO for two reasons: Firstly, if it is allowed to close, it is no longer a public amenity or benefit. The burden may shift to show the detrimental effect on the community and you don't want to go there. Secondly, if the airfield is closed, there is no airfield to protect; just what will become derelict land... and guess what, it becomes easier to prove that the land is more valuable as it is able to be redeveloped, will likely receive planning permission and therefore will be worth a shed load more to the community as well as investors than it would be as an operating airfield.

- The council may well have bit off more than they can chew.. I had a quick look at the CPO process today.. and there are two routes.. But both culmnate in a fair valuation of the property that has to be agreed (or it goes to court).. and the Littler family will argue "but for" the CPO, they are likely to get PP which means the airfield is worth a lot more than just an airfield. Courts are reluctant these days to make a decision on strict form (it is currently an airfield) but look into the reality (the Littler family want to redevelop it, the council have stepped in with a CPO to protect it.. it is therefore really worth more than just an airfield)..

There is a long way to go on this one. Until parliament change the law, or lessors/landlords take back their leases (e.g. SHH), there is a long way to go...
Last edited by jerry_atrick on Wed Apr 03, 2019 8:58 pm, edited 3 times in total.
ChrisT liked this
#1686413
Much the point I was making. The judge passes judgement based on the facts, statute and precedent (as may be the case). He (of she) does not judge on the fact that you (KeithM) think it's a shambles and an injustice.
Jodelman liked this