Wellesbourne Airfield: end of September closure

It’s looking increasingly likely that Wellesbourne Airfield will close at the end of September.

The businesses on the airfield have been told this week that they cannot appeal again on the court ruling regarding the renewal of their leases which run out on 30 September. Many of the businesses are now making plans to relocate.

The airfield is the centre of a dispute between the landowners and developers who want to build houses on the site, and Stratford-on-Avon District Council which wants it to remain an airfield.

The council has started the process of a Compulsory Purchase Order but this is unlikely to come to fruition by the end of September.

A spokesman for the council told FLYER, “We are aware of the outcome of the tenants’ legal action which is entirely separate from the CPO process. We would like to reiterate our stated Core Strategy policy objective that aviation should continue at Wellesbourne Airfield.

“The council can confirm that the government requires authorities to use CPO powers when it is expedient to do so. Consequently, we are engaged in ongoing discussions with the landowners in relation to securing the future of the airfield.

“Whilst these discussions are legally privileged and confidential at this stage, we are pleased that the landowners have come forward with constructive proposals that merit proper consideration.

“The council has been clear throughout that the future use of the airfield must accord with the adopted Core Strategy policy objectives. Whilst the council is considering working collaboratively with the owners to secure these objectives, if it is clear that continued aviation is in doubt, then the council will take the necessary steps to make the Compulsory Purchase Order, if expedient to do so.”

The landowners

In return, the landowners, Littler Investments, issued this statement: “The owners of Wellesbourne Airfield are pleased that yesterday’s Court of Appeal decision brings to an end the protracted process to resolve the legal status of the current tenancies. Despite the many public comments to the contrary, the owners’ approach has been found appropriate and lawful on three occasions; by a District Judge, the High Court and now the Court of Appeal.

“The owners have been unable to make any firm plans about the airfield’s future until the repeated legal appeals were concluded. However, we are engaging constructively with the council to look at options for the future of the airfield and hope that these positive discussions will find the right solution for the site.”

Wellesbourne Airfield
Wellesbourne has been a thriving and popular General Aviation airfield, with a mix of modern and historical aircraft

Businesses on the airfield

Rodney Galiffe, who runs South Warwickshire Flying School at the airfield, told FLYER, “SDC has commenced CPO procedures and the first stages is to have meaningful negotiations with the landlords.

“Commercially appointed expert valuers have produced valuations based on two or three options that are placed before the landlords for their careful consideration.

“Meaningful negotiations are at present taking place and all the businesses are in the forefront of these negotiations and the valuations.

On Track Aviation have relocated their premises to an industrial estate within a mile away in Wellesbourne.

Heli Air have signed agreements with the landlords and will vacate along with The Touchdown Cafeteria and our goodselves on 30 September 2019 when our lease comes to an end.

“If negotiations are not successful between SDC and the landlords, then the next legal steps in the CPO will be initiated. This next procedure and its legal conclusion can take up to and over a year from now.

“We are aware that many, many local councillors want the next stage in the CPO to be commenced without delay as the matter has been dragging on now for five years.

“We are preparing to relocate and at the same time are optimistic that a sensible and satisfactory conclusion could be reached in the negotiations leading to a welcome outcome that will ensure and secure flying functions at the aerodrome for all the businesses and the nation.”

National Kids Fly Day
Wellesbourne has participated in the annual National Kids Fly Day… not always with great weather!


Another business at Wellesbourne, Take Flight Aviation, is also looking at relocating and has already opened a base at London Oxford Airport. Boss Mike Roberts, who launched the Save Wellesbourne fund, said, “The Littlers gave evidence in court that they have been deliberately running down the airfield, wish to cease aviation activities at the airfield and obviously end the businesses’ leases.

“If the Littlers are engaged with discussions with the local authority, discussions which we understand have been going on for some years, how does this square with the evidence given in court that the Littlers want to cease aviation activities at the airfield and there is no potential of the buildings being re-used for aviation related purposes in the future?”

Wellesbourne Airfield



  1. I’m Disgusted that this airfield which supports so many businesses and jobs will be closed and developed for housing…. Really!
    Also the Historic ‘Vulcan’ which is based there will probably need to be broken up to be moved off the airfield.
    Absolutely disgusting.

      1. There were over 200 jobs full and part-time but some businesses have already left the airfield and others have gone bust with the legal fees now around £250,000 plus for all the tenants!

    1. Just to be clear there’s no housing development and the local plan states the council want the airfield to remain as an airfield at least till 2031. The neighbourhood plan also supports it retention and the businesses trading there. The Landlords have deceived the courts saying they will not continue aviation use, if they now say they want to run or develop the airfield having run it down for the past five years with no significant investment for their entire ownership. They might own the land but the airfield was built for the second world war at the peoples expense and I for one would like to see it run properly at last in conjunction with the local authority. Read the full story at SaveWellesbourneAirfield website.

      1. I say good riddance to the airfield. Turn it into a light industrial site with some domestic properties.

        1. And you’d want that on your doorstep would you with roads that can’t take the traffic as it is.
          Very easy to say it when it’s on someone else’s doorstep.
          I for 1 will not have it on my doorstep.
          If the diggers move in they will have a good time swapping engines in the field 😉

  2. If Liverpool Speke can become “John Lennon,” can Wellesbourne become “Stratford William Shakespeare?”

  3. I`ve lived in the village on and off for over 55 years, sad to see a landmark where people lived and died for our freedom going to housing. There`s nothing here for me now.

  4. The owner’s are obviously not bothered how much the airfield means to the local community. It more than just an active airfield.
    They obviously only care on how money they can make on selling it to the developers. Shame on them.

  5. Where the hell is the government on this? . Also closing is Old Sarum . There will be few if any places for G A to go at this rate. These developers must be resisted at all costs!!?

  6. How are we to train new pilots when there are fewer and fewer aerodromes left for them to fly from/to during training ? Someone said recently that the UK could again become a leading Pilot Training nation, given the dire need for more pilots, but not without enough aerodromes it can’t !

    1. We did Mike. All they would say is the agreed statement in the article. They have to follow a procedure which is frustratingly slow!

  7. The Flyer headline is wrong and potentially hazardous. As the subsequent discussion makes clear legal discussions are continuing between the Council and Owners to determine its future. The airfield will not close at the end of September. Do hope no one flies through the ATZ without calling.

    1. I believe that the two businesses that have had their second appeal refused have until the end of October to vacate. So would presume the airfield will remain open until then at least?

  8. With people like Micheal Roberts of Take Flight Aviation flying very and banking steeply over residential properties in G-BNVE as part of a three aircraft formation, the sooner TFA is put out of business the better. Would he like it if the same thing happened at his home in Honiley? Complaint made to Civil Aviation Authority.

  9. I’ve no objection to anyone receiving a windfall so long as it doesn’t screw up someone else’s life. The owners have already had one windfall – if the site had never been developed as an airfield they wouldn’t have made as much profit as they have since the RAF de-requisitioned the site in about 1964.. If it had remained just as a farm there would have been no Saturday markets on the disused part of the runway and it wouldn’t be worth what it would now be if re-scheduled as building land. There is also the wider question of agricultural land, and that is what much of the airfield really still is. If this country continues to accept uncontrolled immigration we will be even more dependent upon food imports than we have in two World wars. We may need more homes but we need all our farmland as well.

  10. The land was requisitioned and the Littler’s home, their farm house was demolished and they ended up what amounted to a shed. I don’t think they seen it as a wind fall. Further more I believe they never regained the land until the early sixtys. To my knowledge no profit was made from the flying activity until a member of the family gave up his own career and took on the management from memory approximately 15 years ago and with the upgrades and improvements I would surmise a large portion of that profit went back into the airfield. I have read 200 jobs are at risk I don’t believe theirs 20 full time employees. While I don’t like to see any field close to flying, l do believe owners have a right to change the use subject to planning etc to their land. The majority of the owners of the businesses are not the original tenants, therefore they must of bought into them knowing there was no lease or licenses for them to operate, so why the big shock and horror when you asked to leave. From my experience the Littler’s are very generous and over the years enabled a lot of people to earn a living, achieve personal ambitions, from the hobby pilot to commercial and military personnel. I wish they well.

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