APPG calls for GA airfields’ planning protection
The All-party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation (APPG) has called upon the Minister for Housing and Planning, Kit Malthouse, MP, to provide airfields with the same level of retrospective protection as church bells, live music venues and farms. Known as the ‘agent of change’, it prohibits campaigns by those who move into an area to close down something which preexisted their move. In a meeting between members of the APPG’S Airfield Working Group and Mr Malthouse, the principle of fresh planning guidance was agreed, in order to prevent new residents from campaigning to close down aerodromes that have been operational for many years.
The discussion built on the successful inclusion of a general aviation paragraph in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) published last year which stated that planning authorities must ‘recognise the importance of maintaining a national network of general aviation airfields, and the need to adapt and change over time, taking into account their economic value in serving business, leisure, training and emergency service needs, and the Government’s General Aviation Strategy’. However, the APPG also wants government planning guidelines to treat airfields in the same way those other existing facilities receive protection in the recently agreed NPPF.
APPG Chairman Grant Shapps, MP, said: “High tech jobs and UK growth depend on the success of aviation, and Britain should be able to train a big chunk of the 790,000 new pilots the world will need by 2020. However, we need active airfields for this kind of training and too many are carelessly being closed. This was a very constructive meeting that examined ways to get greater support for aerodromes and airfields into national planning guidance. It is important that ministers appreciate that aerodromes are vital part of this country’s future economic success. As a former Housing Minister, I am also keen to see more homes built, and so we would like to see guidelines in place that speed up the building of mixed-use development where homes, business and airfields can happily co-exist.”
The Minister commented: “We had a constructive meeting. I look forward to meeting further with the APPG on GA to continue these discussions.”
New guidance is due to be issued in the spring.
Kit Malthouse, MP