Battle for Plymouth Airport steps up

Plymouth Airport: much of its aviation infrastructure is still intact. Image: Google
Plymouth Airport: much of its aviation infrastructure is still intact. Image: Google

The battle for the future of Plymouth Airport is hotting up: Plymouth City Council which wants to reopen the airport v Sutton Harbour Group, a local property developer which has a long lease on the site but closed the airport in 2011.

Plymouth City Council has accused Sutton Harbour Group (SHG) of being in breach of its lease conditions, ie not operating the airport. Last week the council sent a legal letter asking SHG to confirm within 14 days that it will comply with the lease conditions. If it does not meet the deadline, the Council says it will take steps to bring the lease to an end.

Meanwhile, SHG has acknowledged receiving the letter. However, SHG says it is waiting for the current five-year ‘safeguarding’ clause to end in March this year. It says it will then put forward its masterplan for the site. SHG has previous said it wanted to build a garden village on the site called Plym Vale with 1,500 houses.

Plymouth Airport

Hard to believe Plymouth Airport was once a thriving aviation community

Council leader Tudor Evans said, “We have tried the discussions and negotiations for a number of years with Sutton Harbour, but to no avail. We wanted to avoid going down the legal route, but time is running out. We sent them a warning letter last week setting out our intentions.

“There’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes, which given the legal processes we are not yet at liberty to say, but rest assured we are on the case. We are a major city, we have ambitions to grow and thrive and an airport must be part of that story.”

The council points out that although the five-year point will be reached, this does not necessarily mean that the council will no longer be able to safeguard the airport site. The Joint Local Plan, which runs until 2034, still retains the objective of restoring aviation uses. Additionally, Government policy supports a positive approach to planning for general aviation.

“Given this, we are considering options for extending the safeguarding period, and our position will be set out when we publish the JLP five-year review report in March,” said the council.

Plymouth City Airport was built in 1925 and was in use right up until SHG closed it in 2011. In 2009, 157,933 passengers passed through the airport. Since closing, the airport has been ‘mothballed’ complete with its aviation infrastructure.

Plymouth City Council



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