Primarily for general aviation discussion, but other aviation topics are also welcome.
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By PlaneStupid
Ben K wrote:
Sooty25 wrote:to be honest, I've done a bit of reading on it and all I can really gather is that the owners have been screwed about for the last 12 years by their local council.

Now they've just said, "sod it, we've had enough, just shut it".

Of what I've read the owners seem to have been trying to make something of it. Is that not it?

David Wood sums up the situation far better than I could earlier in this thread. Suffice to say that the situation now has gotten somewhat personal and adversarial on at least one side of the debate; I am amazed at some of what has been said about the airfield owners and managers on the Save Old Sarum Facebook group.

That same group makes for interesting reading. There's currently a comment on their "we won!" post where a couple of active OS pilots have implied that if the airfield has indeed not been profitable for years, then blocking the plan to get it back into the black might well result in the airfield owners going "sod it" as you say. Their (the pilots) comments have been roundly dismissed by some of the main proponents of the SOS group.

Others may have different opinions on the whole situation; but whatever the core truth of the matter, I personally have very fond memories of working, flying, and socialising at OS for the past 13 years, and will dearly miss it if it closes.

The whole thing is very sad, Ben. Speaking for local residents and an aviation fan myself, we always recognised that there was room for compromise and had acceptance of some moderate development. However, it seemed that the owners were intransigent in their wish to go for maximum housing numbers. They refused to consult with the local community and indeed, when they were asked by the parish council about financial figures and requirements, they were unwilling to divulge any information.

Without going into too many specifics, there was also a confrontational approach from the other side too. “ If we don’t get our planning permission, we won’t hold back on elevated noise, increased flying or selling to a high density developer. “ If they could so easily expand activity, why didn’t they do just that, rather than go through the costly, risky and protracted planning process?
Certain individuals made pointed comments to objectors about “knowing where you live” and “I’ve got my eye on you” and I, myself received a letter via a solicitor trying to “educate” me on some facts. A totally unnecessary and frankly rather pathetic attempt to silence me - particularly when the originator could have either picked up the phone or written to me on his own headed paper rather than hiding behind a legal firm, unless of course , it was an attempt to intimidate me?

One of the owners, who has apparently lent many millions of pounds over the years to support OSAF has, according to an agent from the airfield, at the public enquiry, visited the site exactly TWICE in the last decade! Curious that, the same benevolent investor didn’t even either attend or if unable to, issue some sort of personal statement of support which would seem rather insouciant having heavily invested in such a business.

I have string aviation connections in my family and would wish to see OSAF fly for perpetuity. Personally, I never felt these investors had the real interests of Old Sarum at heart and their actions by closing down the operation in a fit of pique shows their true feelings towards those that are real aviators.

If Compton Abbas , little more than 25 miles away, can run a thriving business with a waiting list for pilots and hangarage, why couldn’t OSAF with all that Salisbury has to offer on the doorstep be equally as successful?
By cockney steve
AIUI, Arclid, a grass field in the Cheshire countryside, has been closed down.Not far away is Ashcroft , which, prior to the dispute with LAC, was for sale at a not-inconsiderable price. This country is overpopulated and, as such, has large areas where many people simply don't want to live, due usually to economic circumstances as well as poor infrastructure and often inclement weather. The solution is intervention to protect airfields andtheir infrastructure.
A runway and apron are usually struggling to pay, but if the hangarage and supporting employments on-site were permanently tied to the airfield environs as a homogenous whole, the micro-community would have every chance to be self-sustaining.

In Oldham, it's quite noticeable that old, often down-at -heel properties that supported a range of start-up and low-price enterprises, have been driven to closure and demolition, the incumbents herded into the shiny new "industrial-parks" with their greatly- increased overheads.

Perhaps the various organisations representing GA interests, should pool their funds to buy airfields which should then produce revenue to sustain the organisations and their members. :?
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By TheFarmer
A nice thought, but if anyone can find the commercial sense in spending a few million on a grass airfield to save it from housing in order to help a few strip flyers keep using it, really won’t happen. Ever.
By johnm
I have always thought that the areas around hangars and apron clear of manoeuvring areas ought to be considered brownfield industrial development areas. They are wasted when used for housing but as a place for business, especially high tech specialist, they should be gold dust. They won’t make a fast buck, but they might make steady money over a long period of time and govt. policy should be encouraging that........I wish :roll:
By Maxthelion
I thought airfields being considered 'brownfield' had been the reason they had been so attractive to housing developers in the first place..
I seem to remember, if you go back a long way in time, everyone was bemoaning the loss of airfields to prisons.

This has been going on for a very long time. You just have to look at how long the planning process is and how much construction costs.

When was the last purpose built airport/field with a hard runway constructed?

It is government policy, at present, to build houses. It's not right, but that is the greater need and governments are driven by necessity.

Airfields are easy targets.

By johnm
Maxthelion wrote:I thought airfields being considered 'brownfield' had been the reason they had been so attractive to housing developers in the first place..

The original idea was that existing developed curtilage should be considered "Brownfield" and thus qualify for easier planning permission. Unfortunately poor wordsmithing (whether deliberate or accidental we'll never know) left planners and developers with the opportunity to assume the whole airfield was brownfield which has brought us to the present position....
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By Genghis the Engineer
Interesting point there Bob.

I wonder how different everybody's response would be if the owners proposed to buy a patch of remote farmland on top of a hill a few miles outside of the city, put a 1000m runway, a few hangars and a clubhouse on it, and call it "New Sarum Airfield" ?

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By Sooty25
ChampChump wrote:Are the economics of buying and running the airfield worth some fag packet maths? I know I'm naive and have zero business experience worth counting, but just wondering. If villages can save their shops, post offices and pubs, could a flying community save an airfield? Are the numbers simply too eye-watering to consider?

Okay, that last is rhetorical.

Well this is the problem, lots of people either on here and probably on other forums all discuss the rights and wrongs of what is happening, but nobody ever does the maths.

So, where do we start? Capital cost. In this case nobody has asked, so nobody knows what they might sell it for.
What other airfields are on the market or have been sold in say the last 5 years? This might give us a starting point.
What did Wellsbourne sell for in the end?
North Denes is on the market at around £2M
Where else?

I do think that there is potential for crowdfunded purchase of airfields, lets face it, if you've got £5-10k sat in a bank account earning 0.1%, or even maybe 1% if you are lucky, you might as well buy some shares in an airfield and maybe earn the same amount!

400 people with £5k buys North Denes outright.
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By tomshep
And there you go. Four hundred people. some place out in the sticks. 26000 pilots' licences.
The numbers don't work.

The country is too small to support sport flying because the British are conned into buying vastly overpriced houses which are taken away from them once they have paid three times for them and become old and sick.

The profits are too tempting for the terminally greedy.


And I am paying taxes, not for infrastructure and social housing but to subsidise the wages of hard working people whose multimillionaire employers are too effing greedy to pay their employees a proper wage.

I seem to remember that even at 19/6 in the pound, The Beatles still rolled around in Phantom Vs and Espadas.
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By CloudHound
Once an owner sees their land as a cash cow that property development can unlock, I think it's game over for wresting an airfield from them economically.

Until Govt and Planning Law disincentivise this route to wealth the risk remains.
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By flybymike
What did Wellsbourne sell for in the end?

Has Wellesbourne actually been sold or compulsorily purchased? Is the saga still ongoing, tenants displaced etc?
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By defcribed
I'm always slightly amused but also a bit saddened when people think that 'investors' in something like an airfield could actually be interested in continued use as an airfield.

It's like football supporters who get excited when the latest foreign billionaire takes over their club. He's got a real passion for it, hasn't he? He's going to save us and take us to the big time! No, you bunch of morons, he's going to bleed you dry and probably sell your stadium to build a supermarket.

These people are property developers. They play a long game and have deep pockets. They have no interest in aviation, despite what their press releases might say.

They won't sell that land at anything less than a housing development price. They will sit tight until the planning situation changes, however long that takes.
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By Sooty25
The point I'm trying to make is it is not beyond the realms of possibility to form a group and start buying airfields as they come on the market.

Langar was on the market last year at £3.25M with an existing £103k pa income. It clearly isn't beyond anyones imagination to see that with a little effort the income could be increased to a point of generating a return.

Okay, the first purchase may not be in your local area, but the second might be, it might even end up being your home airfield and it might be your local knowledge that saves it.

Old Sarum may well be lost now, as will all the other airfields that we do nothing about until they are under threat.
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By tomshep
Screwed both ways: a tory Government will support the developers and the other side won't support rich kids with private aircraft.
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