If you have been following the recent emails and posts, you may be wondering what happens next. What is going to become of Plymouth Airport?
We are no fortune tellers, but it is possible to form a reasonable picture of what is being lined up. And as much of this is in the public domain and in the public interest, here goes:
Plymouth Airport is in a parlous state and the subject of a wrangle between the leaseholder and Plymouth City Council which owns the freehold. Both would like to develop it as there are tens of millions to be made.
But why would the City Council allow the leaseholder to do so when they regard them as the minority stakeholder? The first item of business must be to remove the leaseholder. This may explain the big-ticket articles in the press about how much the lease is worth.
The Council has two main options to remove the leaseholder. First is Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO), the second is legal action for breach of the Airport Lease. CPO sounds the obvious candidate. But to succeed, this would have to be on the basis of aviation - the Planning Use.
That means the Council would require an aviation partner. And they would be obliged to reopen the airport – not get to develop it. They cannot CPO on their own so they will dismiss this option.
But they can litigate on their own.
At some point Council’s legal advisors will be trawling through the lease looking for arguments to bring the lease to an early end. That process may or may not lead to court action depending on how confident the leaseholder feels about defending the case.
If there is too much uncertainty, expect an out-of-court settlement and an announcement that Plymouth City Council has finally stepped up and acquired Plymouth Airport.
But don’t celebrate too hard. Council Tax-payers will be paying for the Council’s losing control of Plymouth Airport when they accepted closure on that poorly-drafted lease.
And this will still be far from over.
The Council's officers will next present options to Cabinet for a decision. At the risk of second guessing, the options may look something like this:
Work on options something like those outlined above will have been ongoing over the past couple of years. That is what officers do. But it was officers that lost control of the airport under the present lease and officers that will be bailed out by Council Tax-payers when the airport is recovered.
Councillors on the other hand are elected to make the decisions and direct the officers on your behalf. So it is worth speaking with or writing to your Councillor to let them know your views.
In the next article, something more positive: FlyPlymouth’s vision for Plymouth Airport