Wellesbourne Matters – Covid 19 Update
19 May 2020
Although most people’s minds are on other things than the future of Wellesbourne Airfield, there is still plenty of work going on in the background to bring about a satisfactory conclusion for everybody involved.
When Wellesbourne Matters was first formed it was with the intention of securing a planning solution for the airfield’s future rather than just to mount a campaign of objection against its use as housing. Over the past six years, this has proven time and time again to have been exactly the correct strategy and although there have been a few bumps along the way we are now in a position where that strategy will hopefully pay off.
As is the way with these things there have been a few events entirely outside of our direct influence that have proven to be of enormous benefit to our cause. Not least of these was the landmark legal judgement handed down by the Supreme Court in the case of Tesco –v- Dundee City Council and latterly by the Court of Appeal in Canterbury Council –v- The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Gladman Plc. Lord Reed JSC (in paragraph 18 of his judgment, with which the other members of the Supreme Court agreed) said “in principle, in this area of public administration as in others … policy statements should be interpreted objectively in accordance with the language used, read as always in its proper context”. As we at Wellesbourne Matters have consistently argued, the Policy Statement AS.9 in the SDC Core Strategy has to be interpreted exactly as the Lord Reed has indicated. In the case of Canterbury –v- SSCLG and Gladman plc a planning application was dismissed because it did not fit with the Council’s adopted plan even though the Planning Inspector had agreed it. Of particular interest to us were the comments made by Simon Thomas, Head of Planning at Canterbury, who said: “It’s highly unusual for us to take the government to court in this way, but there were important issues at stake here.“
Where we are at the moment is that the Stratford District Council (SDC) has asked Littler Investments to bring forward their outline plan for how they intend to develop the airfield and we are now awaiting that to be produced. Of course the current virus lockdown situation isn’t helping, but the assumption is that Littler Investments (LiL) and Gladman plc are still ‘working from home’ and would be able to produce an outline without too much difficulty. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that was agreed between LiL and SDC allowed the established businesses on the airfield (excluding Take-Flight) to continue as before for a then further 12 months up until the end of September 2020.
It is our expectation that the Landowners will bring forward a plan which will by necessity have to be reviewed closely by SDC especially in the light of the landmark legal judgements and as soon as it has been produced we will be in a position to make further comment.
Finally, our thanks go out to all our members and the friends of Wellesbourne Airfield, the people of the Village, District and indeed the wider population who have contributed so much and have encouraged us in our actions.
Duncan MacKillop – Chairman