Tees Valley mayor buys airport site to block 350-home development

The mayor of Tees Valley has announced a deal to buy Durham Tees Valley Airport from a developer to prevent outline plans for 350 homes going ahead and to 'make the airport great again'.

Peel Airports chairman Robert Hough, left, with Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen
Peel Airports chairman Robert Hough, left, with Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen

During his election campaign last year, Ben Houchen, a Conservative, argued that the airport should be brought into public ownership to reverse a decline in flight numbers at the facility.

He pledged to use part of the mayor’s budget to bring the airport, currently predominantly owned by Peel Holdings, into public ownership. Peel has a masterplan for expanding the airport, including development of homes on part of the site.

In a statement today, Houchen said that terms have been agreed between him and Peel to bring the airport into public ownership.

According to the statement, the mayor presented a proposal to acquire Peel’s 89 per cent shareholding in the airport and 331 hectares of surrounding land for £40 million.

As part of the agreement, the parcel of land with outline planning permission for 350 homes will also be purchased.

The statement said the mayor "has committed to stopping the planned housing development".

Houchen said: "I know some politicians promise the world and walk away from their responsibilities, but I won’t be that type of politician.

"The people asked me to take back control of our airport, and now I’m doing just that. This is the democratic mandate that I have been given.

"In order to stop the planned 350-home development outside the terminal, we have agreed to acquire the land with planning permission for £5 million.

"Stopping this development is central to our long-term plan to make this airport great again."

Houchen said the money for the purchase would come out of a £513 million central government pot for local investment in the area.

According to the statement, the mayor has now called an emergency meeting of the Tees Valley Combined Authority cabinet in January to approve the deal.

The deal, if approved by cabinet, would transfer ownership of the airport to the combined authority in early 2019, the statement said.

In October last year, Houchen signalled that he intends to push ahead with another campaign pledge to build a new garden settlement in the area to meet growing demand for new homes.

In February, Houchen wrote to the chairman of Homes England urging him to scrap the body's plans for a 189-home scheme on a site currently allocated for employment use, warning that the proposals could risk "hundreds of jobs". 

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