Take Flight excluded as Wellesbourne Airfield is saved (maybe)

The future of Wellesbourne Airfield is a little less precarious this week after the landlords, Littler Investments Limited, wrote to nearly all the tenant businesses on the aerodrome to offer them a renewal of their present leases for a further year – all except Take Flight Aviation.

The offer is so that negotiations can continue with Stratford-on-Avon District Council during Compulsory Purchase Order proceedings. The council wants to keep the airfield operating while the landlord wants to build houses on the site.

Resident pilot owners have also received letters offering them a licence to base their aeroplanes at the aerodrome.

Take Flight Aviation led the campaign to save the airfield and has been deliberately left out.

Mike Roberts, boss of Take Flight Aviation, said in an open letter to the leader of Stratford District Council, “Would it not be appropriate to ask why just one business should be discriminated against?

“I would ask you to explain how removing the airfield’s biggest operator, which has already obtained planning permission to build a new modern hangar and clubhouse, the operator who offers apprenticeships and does more to engage with the local community than any other, fits with the core strategy to enhance the established flying function?

“Indeed removing the airfields biggest operator also goes against the neighbourhood plan to safeguard the businesses and allow them to grow.”

Wellesbourne airfield
Safe… for now. Businesses have more time while council and landowner complete compulsory purchase. Top: Except for Take Flight Aviation, that is. Boss Mike Roberts, an enthusiastic pilot, has been excluded

Tony Jefferson, leader of the Council, has replied, “I hope that you understand that, under the circumstances, my responses have to be careful.

“As you are aware SDC have commenced proceedings to make a CPO for Wellesbourne Airfield with a view to implementing our Core Strategy requirements of preserving and enhancing aviation at Wellesbourne. As part of this process we are required to enter into negotiations with the current owners to see if the airfield can be acquired through voluntary transfer or if the Core Strategy aims can be achieved without resorting to the making of a CPO. We have no real choice but to do this.

“SDC were recently informed that the Landlord and Tenant proceedings between the airfield owners and the current tenants had reached a conclusion and that as a result of this, there was a serious risk that all tenants would be required to vacate the site by the end of September 2019.

“As part of our discussions with the current owners we have agreed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that requires aviation to be continued on the Wellesbourne site whilst negotiations about the future enhancement of the site continue. As part of this MoU the owners are required to provide essential flying functions and to maintain the necessary infrastructure in accordance with the Core Strategy requirements.

“As our CPO interest relates only to the use of the land we are unable to specify how this should be provided and, despite our best efforts, we were unable to require that all existing tenants be offered extended tenancies as the owners firmly and correctly felt that this was a Landlord and Tenant matter.

“It is disappointing that the owners appear not to have offered Take Flight a new tenancy, despite our strong representations and we recognise the valuable contribution that your business makes to the Warwickshire economy and community.”

On Twitter

One of the businesses which has had its lease renewed is South Warwickshire Flying School. Owner Rodney Galiffe said, “Kim and I welcome the renewal offer on behalf of SWFS and we are ever grateful for the extraordinary efforts by everyone involved in the process to ensure that negotiations continue to a satisfactory outcome in preserving the aerodrome in line with Government recommendations for the future of General Aviation in the UK.

“We are thankful for the particular assistance from the former Secretary of State for Transport, Councillors and Officers of S-O-A District Council, Wellesbourne & Walton Parish Council, the Stratford Herald and associated press, the General Aviation Awareness Council, the All Party Parliamentary Group on GA and Mr Michael Littler for his committed unbiased long standing support of flying functions at his aerodrome.”

Comments

  1. Just to be clear the leases the other tenants have been offered that I have seen gives the landlord only the option to terminate the lease with 28 days notice. This in my opinion does nothing to secure the long term future of the airfield.

    1. Nothing at all. How can a business make any strategic decisions, when they have no security of tenure? It’s a hollow victory.

  2. Sounds like the flying school which took up the mantle of saving flying operations at Wellsbourne are being punished for it .
    I flew to wellsbourne last week . It was a great place to visit , atc very professional and friendly as was everyone we met . Food was good also and very reasonably priced . It appeared to be a thriving airfield . Please keep it as such and renew all the flying clubs including Take Flight Aviations

  3. I think this is completely and totally unfair. How can a leading organisation like Take flight that contributes so much to the local community be left high and dry like this considering how much effort and financial cost to themselves has gone in to this campaign to save the airfield. The 28 day termination clause for the landlord hardly gives the existing tenants any security. It’s in effect a monthly lease nothing more
    Such sad news at the end of the day

    1. Could Take Flights Operations and Membership be temporarily be transferred to South Warwickshire Flying Club? That way you are still there maybe not in name but in spirit until this mess is sorted out?

  4. It would have been good to see some of the other Wellesbourne-based aviation businesses publicly acknowledge that the primary reason they have been granted any small prospect of survival is the tireless campaigning and financial input of the one business owner who has not been offered a lease renewal.

    Clearly an interested outsider cannot know the full story, but it is disappointing, to put it mildly, to see another long-standing tenant offer abject obeisance to its likely executioner in return for a 28-day rolling lease. If I could turn the clock back 35 years, and had the option of learning to fly with an organisation with a 28-day rolling lease on its premises, or another that did its damnedest to preserve one of Britain’s best-loved GA airfields whilst making contingency plans to ensure its survival at a different location, I know which one I’d choose!

    For the record, other than living locally and having worked as an instructor for a long-defunct, Wellesbourne-based flight training outfit during the early 1990s, my sole interest in this matter is in preserving the dwindling number of airfields available to Britain’s GA community. How many more houses can the limited infrastructure of Wellesbourne “New Town” support anyway??

  5. Please can we speed up with the CPO to continue flying operations and FBO leases at this aerodrome.

    I am fed up and really don’t want to see any further involvement from Littler Investments anymore.

    While it continues to be owned by them, any promise of a lease renewal just kicks the problem down the road and doesn’t really solve anything.

  6. Something really STINKS here!
    How can the council allow such a great business at the Airfield to be picked on so blatantly!
    If they (Stratford Council) actually want to continue running the airfield as per their previous statements then they could and should step in ASAP and save it.
    With the other businesses on a 28 day notice period , this appears to be a foul tactic to quietly close the airfield (saying it’s no longer viable as an airfield) , allow it to be bulldozed and built on which has previously been refused. Surely media you can help uncover who is to blame for allowing this? It is just not right

  7. It’s the Littler’s land and I say this idiot Roberts should be kicked out immediately. Hes like a bad smell that wont go away. The grieve and costs he has caused so his little wasps can disturb Wellesbourne residents even more has to end. Hes got another airfield at Oxford anyway !!

    1. Perhaps you should read the councils core strategy and the democratically voted Neighbourhood plan (over 90% of Wellesbourne residents supported it) Just for the record I don’t have another airfield just somewhere we can take our aircraft if the landlords continue with their threats to make our lives difficult. It might be their land but the airfield was built with public money and where it should return into public ownership. They’ve already made millions out of what would what otherwise be farmland. Thanks for the comment anyway.

      1. Millions? Rubbish. The landwoners charge very low rents. The airfield was built on the Littlers land for reasons long ago and forced upon them. Your very happy to spend millions of taxpayers money for your silly little flying schools at the expense of aged healthcare, eductaion and the NHS. Your sort are selfish and think public money should be wasted on a airfield which only helps a few againt the many.

        1. Ill informed . I know what I pay them in rent, parking fees and their additional income from fuel sales not to mention weekly market which is altogether huge. Many millions in fact! Who trains the pilots of tomorrow, offers job, apprenticeships and works for local charities.

  8. Roger. There is no need to be rude against anyone here. There are very important issues at stake here, especially where people’s jobs are involved. Your response is symptomatic of today’s ranting and raving against anyone who has a different view to their own. You don’t like aircraft; fair enough but just because the landowner, understandably, wants to sell to the highest bidder doesn’t mean they can do as they please without due process. Lastly, please don’t denigrate yourself by making assumptions about people’s wealth and position in life; it smacks of jealousy.

  9. Roger,

    Take Flight’s “wasps” are not the only “wasps” on site and for years, the Littler family to whom you refer, have been perfectly happy to feed your annoyance by earning a living from the “wasps nest” that, as you say, they own. To echo another’s comments, I don’t like wasps and if I am aware of a large nest, I tend to stay well away from it.

  10. This really smacks of a war of egos with the added toxic self-interest. The comments from a politically-misled, ill-educated, envious local idiot do little to help their cause either.
    The heirs to this estate, not the original owners I might add, will satisfy their desire for instant unearned wealth and a cosy future without a thought for the old responsibility of “noblesse oblige”. The jobs of all the staff at the airfield and many other local interests mean nothing to them.
    Too many airfields are being thoughtlessly removed from the national infrastructure without any consideration for future travel needs. As traffic density increases, the requirement for light aircraft and the convenience of local airfields becomes more and more necessary. The Littlers could be on to a real fortune ……………but not the present ones !!

    1. What a load of tosh. So your gonna fly your plane and land it in a city center or by a train station. Whose the ill educated one now. Lite aircraft with no silencers should be silenced or baned. Lite planes only serve the rich who polotte our sky’s with noise.

      1. What an illiterate reply.
        Clearly Roger is a troll…

        I have not done business with Take Flight, but they help support a great aerodrome, and long may they continue

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