Take Flight faces eviction from Wellesbourne

Flying school Take Flight Aviation has lost its fight to stay at Wellesbourne Airfield and is facing eviction at the end of February.

Mike Roberts, founder and boss of Take Flight Aviation, said in a note circulated to FLYER, “We are being evicted from Wellesbourne airfield on 28th February 2020 with the loss of 20 full and part-time jobs, 15 aircraft and over 300 active members.

“The landowners have proffered various misleading explanations as to why they refuse to grant Take Flight a tenancy (despite the airfield manager Mr Littler confirming in the last few weeks Take Flight Aviation was his best customer).

“The real reason offered at a meeting dated 3rd December 2019 with the landowners’ Solicitors (transcript available) was because: Mr Roberts has deliberately and consciously set out to thwart my client in their development of the land.

“Indeed by following local, neighbourhood and central government policy, Take Flight Aviation has been penalised and victimised and appears to be getting no effective help in remedying this from the agencies whose policy he was seeking to protect.

“Despite assurances from Stratford District Council that all businesses at the airfield would be treated equally, SDC have entered into an agreement knowing it to disadvantage tham,  the biggest operator at the airfield and effectively destroy Take Flight’s business.”

The airfield owners, Littler Investments, want to redevelop the airfield as a housing site but has come to an agreement with Stratford District Council for a mixed-use site including retaining an operating airfield. The fight to retain Wellesbourne as an airfield was led by Take Flight’s Mike Roberts.

The Littlers have issued this statement:

“Littler Investments Limited (LIL) are pleased with the Court’s recent decision against Take Flight Aviation and hope now to be able to focus on the aspects of the Memorandum of Understanding, and to working with Stratford-on-Avon District Council (SDC), for the Airfield use to be retained alongside other uses.

“As a result of the manner in which the court proceedings were conducted by Take Flight Aviation, LIL decided that they no longer wanted to have a business relationship with Take Flight Aviation, a position that was made clear to both SDC and Take Flight Aviation prior to entering into the Memorandum of Understanding dated 30th August 2019.

“Take Flight Aviation have had plenty of time to make arrangements to relocate their business, and have already received from LIL the benefit of the statutory compensation they are entitled to at the end of their tenancy.

“LIL are in the process of contacting all the aircraft owners who were aligned with Take Flight to offer them Parking Licences (along with all the other aircraft based on site) which shows the commitment LIL have made to SDC to retain the flying function on site. It must also be remembered that Aeros Flying School is reopening at the Airfield shortly, offering broadly the same services as Take Flight Aviation.”

Take Flight Aviation

Comments

  1. “Offering broadly the same services”.

    Broadly, yes, but not the same.

    One is more a flight school than a club and vice versa and each have a place within GA if not, necessarily, at Wellesbourne!

  2. Without Take Flight Aviation’s tireless efforts on behalf of the pilots, businesses and local community of Wellesbourne, it is entirely possible that the airfield would have fallen derelict many months ago and we would now be witnessing the bulldozers rolling in.

    To say that the airfield owners have “come to an agreement with Stratford District Council for a mixed-use site including retaining an operating airfield” is misleading. The Council confirms that no ‘masterplan’ has been submitted and there has been no grant of planning permission for any future development.

    Current arrangements allow airfield businesses to remain in place on a 28-day rolling basis, until the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the landowners and Stratford District Council (SDC) is either terminated or comes to its natural expiry in August 2020. In the meantime, the removal of Take Flight Aviation looks very much like a concerted move to undermine the viability of the airfield by seeking to expel its most valuable commercial contributor, upon which employees and other based businesses depend for their livelihoods.

    On August 30th 2019, Littler Investments signed an MoU with Stratford District Council. Under that MoU, they promised to “enter into dialogue with the tenants at the airfield and if the discussions are constructive to use reasonable endeavours to offer the tenants new contracted out tenancies on reasonable terms”. In return, SDC promised to take no active steps to progress the compulsory purchase of the airfield for the time being.

    For Littler now freely to admit that they entered into this MoU with no intention of honouring their promise in respect of Take Flight Aviation, and for them to implicate Stratford District Council in this deception is shameful. For the avoidance of doubt, the MoU, as signed by Littler and the other landowners, contains nothing to exempt Take Flight Aviation from its protections.

    Surely enough is enough and the Council needs to recognise the contemptuous attitude of the landowners and use some of the tools at its disposal to protect Wellesbourne for the future, rather than simply allowing Littler Investments to stall for time and ride roughshod over local planning policy.

    1. We have asked Stratford District Council to comment on eviction of Take Flight but have had no reply. We also asked about progress on the Masterplan for the airfield. Again, nothing forthcoming so far. We will continue to ask questions to SDC about the Masterplan, and have noted the August 2020 deadline on the existing MoU.

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