As 2017 comes to a close we are able to look back on what has been a positive year in the story of the presently-mothballed Plymouth Airport.
Earlier in the year, the Joint Local Plan was approved and submitted by Plymouth City Council, West Devon and South Hams to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. This plan sets out policies that safeguard the airport for future aviation use as a General Aviation facility.
The Local Authorities have decided rightly that the airport should be reserved for transport use and have identified sufficient housing land reserves through to 2034 that means residential development on the airport would be surplus to requirement.
General Aviation (GA) incorporates all aviation activities apart from scheduled passenger services. This means that Plymouth Airport would offer all the private and commercial services including business and charter traffic that it provided prior to closure.
FlyPlymouth’s plan is to acquire the site and recommission it to deliver general and business aviation services in line with local policy. We have the plan, the team, key customers and the private sector investment lined up to execute a transaction and get on with the work.
The next step will take place early next year at the Examination in Public when a Government-appointed Planning Inspector will review the Joint Local Plan to ensure that it is sound. FlyPlymouth will participate in that process together with the Local Authority and the airport leaseholder. Following that, the Planning Inspector will produce a report setting out her findings and recommendations.
Assuming that the City Council succeeds in defending its policy position, Plymouth Airport will be safeguarded for General Aviation. It is then for the Local Authority – the airport’s freeholder – to ensure that the site is brought promptly to market at a fair price based on aviation use.
At that stage, FlyPlymouth will seek to acquire the lease and get on with the work of recommissioning and relicensing the site and introducing aviation activities.
At the beginning of this year, we said that 2017 would be the defining year for Plymouth Airport – based on the available timetable. We now know that the key dates will be around the beginning of February next year but they are now set.
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