Wellesbourne housing fears return amid airfield evictions

Fears that hundreds of houses could be built at Wellesbourne Airfield have resurfaced after businesses were served eviction notices to be off the land by December.

Businesses on the aviation site were sent a letter on behalf of landowners Littler Investments, stating that leases will end on December 24 to allow the company to “redevelop the property”.

The shock announcement also means that the Civil Aviation Authority licence held by airfield operator Radarmoor will be cancelled in December - meaning no flying businesses can continue. The letter states: “In the circumstances, Radarmoor will have no choice but to relinquish the Civil Aviation Authority licence at the same time at which it gives up possession.

“Accordingly, all use of the property as an airfield will cease on the date on which Radarmoor gives up possession.

“Any activities carried out by you which require the use of an operational airfield will have to cease at that time.”

It is not yet known what the planned redevelopment entails, but fears have already been raised that it could lead to the return of plans for hundreds of houses.

The eviction will also mean the end of the open-air Wellesbourne Market which is one of the biggest of its kind.

Business owners gathered for an emergency meeting on Thursday to discuss plans and the way forward, but several members have since told the Courier they cannot disclose details due to “legal proceedings being ongoing”.

One, who did not wish to be named, said: “It was decided at the meeting that as things are now in the hands of our solicitors we cannot talk about our plans at this time.”

Cllr Anne Prior, chairman of Wellesbourne and Walton Parish Council, said the matter was due to be debated by members at their next meeting, but that the initial fear over the loss of air activities and the potential for change was “very worrying”.

She said: “It was a shock to hear. We have not been officially told of this plan as yet but have heard about the leases not being renewed.

“This will lose a lot of business - and there are a significant number of businesses there - as well as the flying schools which will cease to exist and that is a big concern for us. Obviously we are very disappointed, especially after the long housing fight we had at the airfield and there is a worry that houses will resurface within this announcement.”

However, the organisation which looks after the Vulcan XM655 on the site - the 655 Maintenance and Perseverance Society - said this week: “We can reassure you that 655MaPS have not received an eviction notice, nor do we expect one.

“No planning application has been submitted for development of the site, and the local council have made it clear that they wish to encourage further development as an active airfield. Whilst we cannot rule out the possibility the airfield may eventually close, we expect to be able to continue with our present activities for many years to come.”

Plans for 1,600 houses at the site were fought off in 2014 following opposition from villagers, the campaign group Wellesbourne Matters and with vocal backing from MP Jeremy Wright.

The unpopular housing plans included a primary school, sports pitches, play areas, shops, a community hall and had land set aside for a potential secondary school.

Hundreds signed a petition against plans which they said would have turned the 700-home village into a small town.

The airfield, a former Royal Air Force station, is now used for private and pleasure flights, flying lessons, air shows and markets.

Volunteers from Wellesbourne Matters previously told the Courier that five flying schools operate from the family-owned airfield , generating more than 100 jobs.