Primarily for general aviation discussion, but other aviation topics are also welcome.
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#1821184
Tbh, I'm of the illusion that the whole brownfield/greenfield argument is just a smokescreen to cover cash and vested interests. Developers with councils in tow will invariably do what the want anyway.

Local to me is 3 adjoining, commercial, brownfield sites, with outline planning for around 1400 homes. It has been dormant for 20 years. Suffolk Country Council have just approved a 1300 home greenfield development on the edge of town against the objections of just about everybody within 10 miles.

The difference between the 2 locations is purely down to cost of development. Hard cash talks every time.
#1821185
Flyingfemme wrote:The costs are prohibitive. Building land is 100 times the price of agricultural. Nobody but Heathrow can afford that. And the planning system values all infrastructure bar airfields.


I'm not convinced. Langar sold a couple of years ago and it was generating a financially viable return at the point of sale. It just needed access to capital to buy it.
#1821291
flyinfox wrote:The developer MCR says it intends to invest proceeds from the proposed housing estate into airport improvements and developments but this does not stand up to scrutiny.
The company and directors have no aviation experience. No track record of running an airport or interest in aviation. MCR Property Group is a property developer whose core business is a letting agency specialising in remodelling industrial and retail premises. The airport will only generate a small profit in comparison to property development so it is difficult to understand the motivation to be airport owner operators. The probability is that the promises to invest in the airfield are just a ruse to obtain planning permission. The MCR representatives admitted, during the consultation, that the airfield improvements would only be implemented if the sale of homes met their profit expectations and there is no guarantee that any will be delivered at all.
In order to obtain planning permission for housing in a green belt area a good reason has to be provided. The promise of investing proceeds from the development to improve the airport business could satisfy this requirement but in addition, planning permission will add value to the land. There is no guarantee or legally enforceable agreement that will ensure the promised investment will be implemented. It is far more likely that MCR will maximise their profit and sell the land to a property developer with the required recourses to support the project. Eg a high-volume builder such as Persimmon. Any promises and assurances that the airport will remain open will be lost in such a sale.
The nearest gas, water and sewerage mains will need to be brought a relatively long distance to supply the housing estate. It is difficult to see how the huge cost can be justified for only 112 houses. MCR suggest they may make houses all electric or use LPG. This is likely to make houses less attractive bringing into question the viability of the scheme unless a much larger development is planned for the future. Originally the developer advertised, on their website, that 1200 houses were to be built on the airfield. Approximately 5000 new houses are being built five miles away at Stallings lane, Kingswinford so the need for housing in this area will be more than satisfied making this development unnecessary.
Allowing this plan to proceed will cause severe disruption to locals during construction. Disruption to airport operations is also likely. It will also increase the risk to safety of all airfield users and residents because of incidents caused by FOD or collision with cranes and other plant and equipment.
1) Key objections
a. Negative impact on green belt area.
b. Negative impact on local residents due to disturbance from increased traffic on narrow unlit roads. (The proposal to build a cemetery in the area was rejected due to the fear of Bobbington being flooded with cars. An additional 112 houses could be argued as having a more severe affect.)
c. Lack of public transport increasing the use of private transport.
d. Impact on already over stretched schools, medical services and a range of other community facilities and services including retail centres, libraries, sport and recreation.
e. A housing estate of this size is an unacceptable and an unreasonable imposition on a small community and will irretrievably damage the amenity of the existing residents. Such a proposal is both socially and environmentally damaging to the existing community of the village. **
f. Negative impact on wildlife habitat. Rare species, such as Curlews, Owls, raptors and bats have been seen on the designated building area.
g. Potential restriction to airport operations due to new noise abatement requirements near the new residential area.
h. Restrictions to airport operations will have an adverse effect on its viability.
i. Risks to safety and security of the airport due to a residential area within its boundary. This will be even greater during construction.
j. Predictable future risk of housing being instrumental in closing down the flying activities of the airport. The inevitable objections to noise pollution in years to come from the residents located inside the airfield boundary are more likely to over-rule the interests of the flying activities. Some houses will be very close to the fuel bay where noisy private, commercial and military helicopters are almost constantly operating. This will undoubtedly be a nuisance to residents. No sound proofing, even if triple glazing will alleviate noise and resonance caused. Another airfield in Staffordshire had to stop rotary traffic because of this reason. Complaints are inevitable and are likely to lead to a curtailment of rotary traffic which is a major revenue stream for the airfield.
k. Panshangar and Old Sarum airfield are examples where initial housing developments were allowed and now, a few years later, the landowners have closed the airfields.

** Bobbington is classed as a tier 4 Settlement. Settlements in this tier have either no or very few facilities. Typically, these settlements will have either a small food store or a limited degree of educational facilities (e.g. a primary school). Access to employment via public transport is much poorer than in the higher tiers and there is also much poorer access to other facilities by public transport, with some villages having no public transport provision.
Halfpenny Green is classed as a tier 5 Settlement. Settlements in this tier typically have no facilities and services within the settlement.


Spot on.
There's a lot of local opposition, residents in Bobbington and other surrounding villages can't get places in doctors surgeries or schools as it is - adding over 300 potential new residents to the list just makes a mockery of the whole thing...
#1821301
Nige321 wrote:
Spot on.
There's a lot of local opposition, residents in Bobbington and other surrounding villages can't get places in doctors surgeries or schools as it is - adding over 300 potential new residents to the list just makes a mockery of the whole thing...


If you weren’t interested in flying, do you think the land would be better used for new homes and facilities for the area?

This morning I was chatting to a friend who lives in Claverley and I brought up the subject of Halfpenny Green seeing as he lives nearby. He argued that new homes, investment in local infrastructure such as transport, GP surgeries, schools etc is more beneficial than an airfield that benefits very few people so he hopes for full development of the site. I can see his point as a local, but as a pilot I find it’s difficult to look beyond the risk of losing yet another airfield that will not be replaced :|
#1821311
Spooky wrote:
Nige321 wrote:
Spot on.
There's a lot of local opposition, residents in Bobbington and other surrounding villages can't get places in doctors surgeries or schools as it is - adding over 300 potential new residents to the list just makes a mockery of the whole thing...


If you weren’t interested in flying, do you think the land would be better used for new homes and facilities for the area?

This morning I was chatting to a friend who lives in Claverley and I brought up the subject of Halfpenny Green seeing as he lives nearby. He argued that new homes, investment in local infrastructure such as transport, GP surgeries, schools etc is more beneficial than an airfield that benefits very few people so he hopes for full development of the site. I can see his point as a local, but as a pilot I find it’s difficult to look beyond the risk of losing yet another airfield that will not be replaced :|


Impossible for me to answer.
But the locals I know are not happy, they live in the real world where they know perfectly well that 'investment in local infrastructure such as transport, GP surgeries, schools etc' is highly unlikely to happen...
Pilot Pete, Sooty25 liked this
#1821362
Our village has been decimated by huge volumes of additional housing, all built on greenbelt land.
It feels like the traffic has quadrupled (or more). Just an average morning is seeing the kind of traffic activity expected in the nearby town, on a Saturday.
Every promise from the developers at their B.S. presentations/consultations has been broken/forgotten.
No new roads, no additional infrastructure capacity, nursey, doctor surgery or school places.
I feel sorry for anyone who has this imposed on them and sorry for anyone who ever believes it will be different.
The developers don't live in terraced or semi's in overrun villages!
I'd consider buying-in on an airfield project but the reality is it would be an emotional move rather than a financial one and mostly that doesn't make much sense.
kanga liked this
#1821376
Flyingfemme wrote:There are plenty of other fields that could provide houses. None of then can provide more runways and hangars.


Quite. Like I said at the time of the Sheffield city debacle when someone said, "Don't you think it's better providing an industrial estate creating jobs, etc?"

I replied, "How would any of that be diminished if they used the field next door?"

It's the "brownfield" status of airfields which is the problem.
#1821385
And a very similar situation at Staverton right now. The airport management has applied for planning to build another industrial estate on the north side of the airfield; on “redundant operational land”. To you and me that is the heli practice area. It also involves the permanent loss of 18/36.
Paul_Sengupta, kanga liked this
#1821442
Flyingfemme wrote:And a very similar situation at Staverton right now. The airport management has applied for planning to build another industrial estate on the north side of the airfield; on “redundant operational land”. To you and me that is the heli practice area. It also involves the permanent loss of 18/36.


The problem here is that airfields need to have the ability to develop pockets of 'redundant' land for other uses to raise capital to reinvest into the infrastructure of the aerodrome side of their businesses...for that to remain viable. This is especially so in the case of a local authority-owned operation like Gloucestershire. It barely breaks even (historically) and needs millions of further investment to move forward and the council tax payers will be appeased if those funds come out of profits from land regeneration rather than central funds that could have gone into local care, education etc. etc. The downside is the loss of the use of one of three hard runways and some complications for heli-training, the upside is that Gloucester will still be an aerodrome in twenty years and not a housing/industrial estate.
kanga liked this
#1821446
You sure about that? The runway closure affects the schools and the loss of the heli training area affects the most profitable part of the airport income. If the helis go elsewhere then the airport becomes “unviable”. Where have we heard that before?
And the airport finances changed considerably with some masterly restructuring by the current management - they were on track to a decent profit before covid hit.
#1821459
Fair point, I guess they've weighed-up the pros and cons, must relate to the sum of money they make from creating that new industrial estate, is it in the public domain as to how much this will generate, either in land sale or ground rent/annum from the developments on there? Presume they're keeping the freehold?
#1821497
Sooty25 wrote:
Flyingfemme wrote:The costs are prohibitive. Building land is 100 times the price of agricultural. Nobody but Heathrow can afford that. And the planning system values all infrastructure bar airfields.


I'm not convinced. Langar sold a couple of years ago and it was generating a financially viable return at the point of sale. It just needed access to capital to buy it.



And that willingness/ability to put cash down is a significant part of the problem.

The new owner of Langar is a businessman who has an interest in aviation - but he is an individual, and now he owns it, it is his to do with as he wishes.

I suspect, knowing his reputation fairly well, that as long as his interest in aviation continues it will potentially continue to operate as an airfield (with peripheral land deployed for other uses as now) but if he, or his his successors have a change of mind, they are at liberty to withdraw that airfield status at any time of their choosing and redevelop the land as they then see fit (within planning constraints).

If aviators seek security of tenure they need to secure ownership of airfields, rather than rely on others to put up the cash to provide a facility in return for rent and then be disappointed if the landowner takes up a better offer if it comes their way.

Interestingly, quite a few gliding clubs have recognised this over the years and bought their own land in the 'club' name, whereas it appears rather fewer GA airfields are club owned. Perhaps this tended to happen as a consequence of the 'club' nature of gliding in this country vs GA norm being flying schools and students then often progressing on to independant private/ group owned GA aircraft operation post training. Either way, those that are owner occupiers are in a good position when compared with tenants.
terryws, Sooty25 liked this
#1821498
I find it difficult to conclude that the plan put forward is anything more than a Trojan horse with the ultimate goal being to develop the whole site for housing. Even as a lover of aviation, I wouldn’t want to be sitting in my garden on a sunny summer day with aircraft arriving and departing on 34. It would be even worse if a queue of aircraft formed on the taxiway waiting to depart on 34 - not just the noise but also the fumes from idling engines would not be very pleasant. Not great either in terms of noise and fumes if power checks for aircraft intending to depart on 34 are proposed anywhere near the houses.

To my mind, that proposal just doesn’t work on any kind of practical level. If it goes ahead, it will be the airfield users that will be the ones required to make concessions, one of which (in what could turn into death by a thousand cuts), and possibly the first, being the withdrawal of 16/34 from use.
#1821519
Overflight wrote:Fair point, I guess they've weighed-up the pros and cons, must relate to the sum of money they make from creating that new industrial estate, is it in the public domain as to how much this will generate, either in land sale or ground rent/annum from the developments on there? Presume they're keeping the freehold?

They've "modelled" it - a couple of years ago. And no; no income numbers have been shared. But we all know that there is an oversupply of offices right now and that may continue for quite a while. They are not expecting to lose any aviation income - but that is not their call.
What we do know is that a runway, once dug up, will never return to active service. And it isn't like they don't have land on the south side that isn't used and could be built on.
Even if the aviation continues - how would you feel about five heli spots outside your office?
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