Primarily for general aviation discussion, but other aviation topics are also welcome.
#1686456
defcribed wrote: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.


An informative and extensive post by jerry_atrick which I fully understand and acknowledge.

I also believe, defcribed, that I have not disputed the remit of any judge nor am I questioning points of law, especially as I am not qualified to do so.

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.

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.

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.

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?
#1686458
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)
#1686545
jerry_atrick, again a very informative post and your points are well noted.

On the issue of housing development, you will probably know that the local authorities are required to make such assessments on a regular basis (every five years, I am told) and to submit a report to central government. Stratford District Council has, as I understand it, fully complied with all requirements. Indeed, Long Marston airfield, for example, has already been identified and included in such plans.

The mere fact that the District Council has now begun CPO proceedings to prevent a privately instigated proposed redevelopment of land for housing would tend to confirm the true nature of such a proposal, one which has little or nothing to do with the public interest whatever the legal arguments may be.

The local view seems to be that whilst the airfield and land are profitable, the landowners, simply, no longer wish to continue operating the airfield nor are they willing to offer an opportunity for other willing parties to do so.
#1686698
AIUI, it's already been established that paved -runways and the footprints of existing buildings and paved roads/taxiways etc. are considered "brownfield " [b] all [b] the grassy -bits are "greenbelt " (unless lying within a development-area.
It seems logical that in the case of Wellesbourne, most of the site is , at most, agricultural value.

I may be well off-beam here, .
#1686763
cockney steve wrote:AIUI, it's already been established that paved -runways and the footprints of existing buildings and paved roads/taxiways etc. are considered "brownfield " .., .


I was not aware that the precise meaning of 'previously developed' had actually been established in planning law/adjudication so precisely. The Minister's clarification to the much misunderstood PPG change (as sent to MPs for enquiring constituents, including me, at the time) was that individual cases might require legal judgement. However. It seems reasonable to suppose that an Inspector or Court or SoS would accept that an existing building implies 'previous development' of the footprint of that building.

Happy, as ever, to be corrected.
Last edited by kanga on Fri Apr 05, 2019 3:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
cockney steve liked this
#1686779
As I understand the current situation, the two recent hearings were related entirely to the landowners’ refusal to renew airfield tenancies, presumably the first step in making the land available for sale to the developers.

Both judgements on that specific matter have favoured the landowners on the basis of “a reasonable prospect of development”.

The District Council, however, are opposed to any development that would result in the termination of airfield activities, hence the commencement of CPO proceedings and a significant sum of money having being set aside to cover legal costs.

In essence, therefore, we would seem to have two related albeit separate legal issues running in parallel, a situation being driven largely by the presumably deep pockets of Gladman Developments.

One would like to believe that the eventual future of Wellesbourne Airfield, or any other, will not eventually be determined on the grounds of private financial muscle.

Time will tell.
#1686786
cockney steve wrote: It seems logical that in the case of Wellesbourne, most of the site is , at most, agricultural


Indeed.

I’m not sure how much, if any, of the included agricultural land is intended to be sold off in the short or long term.
#1686799
A pragmatic solution would be for the existing tenants to suggest the landowner offers them a new tenancy which can be terminated upon planning permission for redevelopment being obtained.

This would avoid the landowner having their hands tied with sitting tenants, whilst maintaining the income until the place is sold (via CPO or private sale).

But it appears pragmatism is not the order of the day.
cockney steve liked this
#1686814
That idea doesn't meet the landowner's needs at all because a major part of gaining planning permission for development will be demonstrating the non-viability of the existing use.

Stratford DC have their five year housing supply laid out, so gaining planning permission for housing will be extremely difficult if not impossible. If they didn't have the five year supply, there would be a presumption in favour of approval.
KeithM liked this
#1686861
defcribed wrote:That idea doesn't meet the landowner's needs at all because a major part of gaining planning permission for development will be demonstrating the non-viability of the existing use.

Stratford DC have their five year housing supply laid out, so gaining planning permission for housing will be extremely difficult if not impossible. If they didn't have the five year supply, there would be a presumption in favour of approval.


I totally agree with that assessment which is precisely why the recent legal judgements regarding the non-renewal of tenancies seem to be, in view of the overall picture, somewhat bizarre as one of the tenants has previously described it.

One can only assume that there is an expectation that, and grounds upon which, the CPO can either be prevented in the short term or that the land will become available for the proposed housing development in the future. This might explain why certain actions, both past and present are being viewed by many as mere “spoiling tactics”.

In that context and with respect to the issue of viability, I am advised that both the farmland and airfield operations are viable (as are other interests held by the landowners). Were this not so, and were there to be a lack of confidence in the airfield’s future viability, one might reasonably have expected the Council’s position on this matter to be somewhat less forthright and somewhat less likely to be supported by the local taxpayers.

As for the current position of the remaining tenants, although an appeal to the Court Of Appeal is apparently being considered they might have to vacate in July at which point Wellesbourne Airfield will, presumably, cease operations pending the outcome of the CPO proceedings.

It is possible that, sadly, not all of those businesses will be able to temporarily relocate or to temporarily cease trading.

One might hope that common sense will prevail in the interim but I doubt that common sense has anything to do with it and I, for one, am not holding my breath.

Donations to the campaign are, therefore, still needed and will be most gratefully accepted! :)
#1711115
https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/news/wellesbourne-airfield-businesses-refused-permission-to-reappeal-lease-ruling-14433/?fbclid=IwAR25xZzrjbR2_t5ZEHuJGNwEAhsJ69-6z8ZMpBLgiFvVV1W2hdbasOmLIAo


BUSINESSES at Wellesbourne Airfield have been told they cannot reappeal a ruling against the renewal of their leases.

The airfield has been the focus of an on-going dispute between the owners, which want to sell it to developers for housing, and Stratford District Council, which wants it to remain an airfield.

Businesses took their fight to court after owner Littler Investments told them their leases would not be renewed.

But the businesses lost the original case to get their leases renewed in June last year, and an appeal in March.

Flying school Take Flight Aviation and aeroplane workshop Warwickshire Aviation – which took the legal action – have now been told by the Court of the Appeal they cannot reappeal the ruling.

It means they face having to leave the airfield by September 30.

Earlier this year the district council began a compulsory purchase of the airfield to protect it from developers – but that will not be completed before the September deadline.

Rodney Galiffe, owner of South Warwickshire Flying School (SWFS), also based at the airfield and hoping to stay, said the news was a setback.

He said: “The news, although somewhat expected given the advice I had following our appeal, is nevertheless disappointing and another setback to the enormous fight by everyone involved in the legal quest to get the business tenancies renewed.

“Purchase offers and the initial stages of the Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) are in progress with the council reporting that meaningful talks are in progress with the landlords at the present time.

“The business operators are in the forefront of all Stratford District Council’s negotiations. We retain great optimism that a secure and sensible result will ensure before September 30 when the landlords have made known that they will cease all operations.

“SWFS’s present lease will expire on the same date unless there is a successful outcome to the future retention of flying functions.”
#1711173
I have yet to get the full details but it looks to me like another likely example of legalistic separation of issues despite those issues, in the non-legalistic world, being intrinsically linked in the real world.

It has often baffled me that grounds for appeal are often only granted on the basis of evidence of a flawed process rather than on the basis of evidence of a flawed or perverse decision.

Another example of “The law is an ass”, perhaps and where common sense might seem to be inapplicable?
#1711653
deltacharlie wrote:Latest position: https://www.flyer.co.uk/wellesbourne-ai ... re-likely/


Yes, an excellent summary.

The landowners want to close the airfield and sell it off for development. Evidence was produced confirming this.

The council wish to retain the land for use as an airfield and are, therefore, not wishing to grant planning permission for housing development. That, opposing, view has also been clear.

Within those opposing objectives lies the tenancies dispute, a technically separate, but obviously related, issue.

So, in simple terms, we could now see the airfield, in the short term at least, being retained as an airfield but with nobody there to keep it active as a direct result of the legal judgement regarding the tenancies!

One can only hope that this does not now become a simple final battle of financial attrition between the developers and the council.

If the council were to lose such a battle then much of what has been said about protecting airfields would seem to be meaningless and NO GA airfields would be safe, particularly smaller ones.