One of the UK’s most historic and picturesque airfields, Old Sarum, near Salisbury, Wiltshire, could close in three months.
The owners of the airfield lease, the Hudson family, have given three months’ notice to businesses on the airfield to leave, and for owners to relocate their aircraft.
It follows a decision by the planning inspectorate not to grant planning permission for the owners to build 462 houses on the airfield, a decision labelled as “an unexpected and perverse decision” by Matthew Hudson, a director of the airfield.
Mr Hudson, in a letter sent to airfield residents, said, “After October 31, the Hudson family may not provide future loans to Old Sarum Airfield Limited since it now has absolutely no prospect of repaying the existing non-performing 7-figure loans, except by promoting unlimited flying.
“As the council’s own expert testified this could make the use of the airfield profitable but only with a very large increase in flying operations.
“The airfield profitable at that level would be able to fully service the existing loans from the Hudsons. The consequence would be a significant increase in aviation noise caused by overflying local residents and communities in and around Salisbury from unlimited flying of all types of aircraft including helicopters, at all hours. As accepted at the inquiry, this will damage the quality of life for hundreds of families. It would also reduce their property values considerably due to the noise nuisance 24-7.
“Matthew Hudson is considering this unpleasant quandary – impose large property losses on hundreds of homeowners while reducing their quality of life; or close the airfield and personally realise unsustainable seven figure losses. This is a situation which, with the support of dedicated staff, he has spent decades a £million trying to prevent.
“In the interim we need to keep all our options open and to this end we are forthwith giving you three months’ notice of the termination of your licence. Your licence will terminate on 31 October 31 209 when you will have no rights of access to any of the airfield premises or any use of the airfield.
“We are very sorry that we are forced to take this action but want to provide you with as much advance notice as possible. I hope you understand that we need to ensure that we keep all our options open in order to permit mitigation of some of the harm that this strange, indeed unfounded decision by Wiltshire Council and the planning inspector has caused.”