The airport comprised a grass strip, a control tower, various buildings and a restaurant. A group of hangars stood next to the appeal site. The appellants had a legal agreement with the owners granting rights of access to the grass strip in perpetuity. The council had commissioned consultants to consider the airfield's future as part of the emerging local development framework (LDF).
The consultants had concluded that while the airfield was not suitable for major expansion, the LDF should encourage low-key growth with associated tourist accommodation and facilities. In response, the owners put forward plans for redevelopment involving high-quality holiday accommodation, leisure facilities and a microlight centre of excellence. This would lead to a substantial reduction in the size of the airstrip and leave the existing group of hangars isolated from the runway.
In light of these proposals, the council was considering a masterplanning exercise as part of the LDF process. The inspector noted that no other applications would affect the appeal proposal. Consequently, he held that there was no sustainable argument that the proposal would be premature given the speculative nature of the long-term plans for the airfield.
DCS Number 100-064-417
Inspector Simon Hand; Hearing