KeithM wrote:The fact remains, however, that this appears to be purely an opportunistic move on the part of the landowners to seek a maximum increased return on an already viable asset for entirely selfish reasons. In the face of strong opposition “spoiling tactics” are being used and financial pressures are being applied.
This is a sad outcome of the adversarial system - it is, in effect a fight between two parties according to the rules of the game and each party will therefore do their best to push the boundaries. However, I am not sure of the spoiling tactics or whether they have simply been asserting their legal rights.. In fact, one could say because the businesses at EGBW are attempting to use the spoiling tactics of delay and discourage continuation if they are entering into futile appeals (I am merely playing devil's advocate - I still haven't seen the court reports and even if I did, I am not qualified to make a legal opinion).
Land is a limited resource, hence the need for planning rules and limitations on development and a need to balance public interest with private interest.
Agreed, but this is competiting public interests.. The government has stated that it wants to preserve airfields. The government has stated it wants to build y * 10,000 or even y * 100,000 homes in the near future.. Which interest better serves the community at the lowest cost (yes, there are other options, but greefield/greenbelt is wanted to be preserved; regenerating toxic dumps has its issues, etc.. I understand these areguments and there will be many more public interest conflicts).
Whether or not, in that context, Wellesbourne Airfield deserves protecting might well be a matter of opinion but there is also a genuine wider concern that its loss, especially under such circumstances, could set a negative precedent and one which would seem contrary to the stated aims of not only protecting but enhancing the GA infrastructure within the U.K.
Again - it is about reconciling which stated aims have higher priority (Note, I take the point it is far easier to redevelop an airfield for the next stated aim, than redeveoping a housing estate).
Seems to me, quite simply, that if we cannot protect an airfield from redevelopment where redevelopment is being opposed by the very body responsible for approving it, then which airfields can we ever hope to protect?
The [public] body responsibile for approving/rejecting such applications may be opposed to it on moral or utility grounds, but they are still only able to approve/reject on the basis of the law, which is why we have an appeals system - in case they get it wrong. The system was overhauled a few years ago because these sorts of planning cases were clogging up the courts. As I recall, the streamlining effectively meant it was possible to get developmental planning consent easier than what it was (i.e. the thresholds to meet were lowered), but I could be mixing that up with a planning overhaul of another jurisdiction.. The utlimate body responsible for approving/rejecting a planning application is the Planning Court (https://www.gov.uk/courts-tribunals/planning-court
), unless it can be further appealed to the Supreme Court.
The best way to protect the airfields is to embark on appeals where there are sound legal grounds or at least there is enough legal ambiguity to argue one's case for having an interpretation or application of the law go their way. Failing that, one looks at all the other legal options available (council are pursuing the CPO, I am sure legal teams have considered injunctions or even specific performance against the Littlers pending the outcome of the CPO).
Failing that, look at other strategies to pursue to get the Littler family to agree to keep the airfield open and enter into a restrictive covenant and/or sell the airfield to someone likely to keep it open; failing that, move into the realms of civil disobedience to change the law or achieve the outcome; success usually takes a long time and need not be illegal.. the #savethejodel campaign, was effectively civil disobedience that stirred support from may facets of the community that bore pressure on SHH to allow the Jodel to leave (If pursuing this, then it makes sense to frustrate the process with a tenuous appeal to buy necessary time, I guess)