Wellesbourne businesses fight on despite losing court appeal

The four businesses on Wellesbourne Airfield left fighting the battle for their continued tenancies have lost the latest appeal meaning they could be forced to leave in July.

The landlords of the airfield, the Littler family, and property developers Gladman are attempting to remove the business tenants on the airfield. They want to build houses on the site even though the local Stratford District Council has vowed to keep the airfield open.

Stratford DC recently confirmed it is pursuing a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) of the site to protect it. However, that CPO may not come in time to save the businesses.

Earlier this week, the tenants lost their appeal for new tenancies at the airfield. Mr Justice Bliss in the High Court of Justice dismissed the appeal allowing the previous judgement to end the tenants’ tenancies at the airfield to stand, meaning that tenants could have to vacate the airfield in as little as three months and twenty-one days.

Wellesbourne Airfield played an important role in WW2 – one of the reasons Wellesbourne airfield is designated as a heritage asset.

Mike Roberts of Take Flight Aviation, one of the four businesses left fighting for their tenancies, said, “[Wellesbourne is] an irreplaceable resource delivering social, cultural, and economic benefits. Its consistency as an airfield in daily public use must be preserved to continue its conservation, or its significance to interpreting the past would be lost forever.

“The tenants have vowed to fight on and are currently looking at taking the case to the Court of Appeal.

“However, even if the tenants have to move off the airfield temporarily this could actually save the local authority a substantial amount of money.

“Although the airfield would still have a lawful use as an airfield the significant income derived from the tenants would be ignored, as they could be in effect be buying farmland at less than £10,000 per acre rather than a thriving airfield, albeit one that they are deliberately running down.

“The cost of fighting the case against the landlords backed by major developers is disproportionate to the income of most of the small businesses on the airfield. This is what the Landlords and backers are relying on, doing everything they can on the way to increase legal costs, but they had not expected the resilience of the tenants and their supporters at Wellesbourne and the widen aviation community.

“Unfortunately, the tenants own legal costs and the potential of paying the landlords’ legal costs have forced four businesses out of the fight.

“This leaves the four remaining businesses fighting, South Warwickshire Flying School, Take Flight Aviation, Touchdown Café and Warwickshire Aviation with legal costs and potential legal costs of a quarter of a million pounds or more.

“With the local authority, government, heritage organisations, CAA, aviation organisations and APPG GA all supporting and awaiting the final outcome of the Wellesbourne situation with interest, it doesn’t seem fair that this financial burden should rest on four small businesses shoulders so a Crowdfunder page was set up.”

Save Wellesbourne Airfield


  1. I hope you are successful in preserving your airfield . At root , it is greed that is posing a threat to airfields all over Southern England . Poor quality , cheap , unimaginative housing is the offer from business . Better to preserve training and jobs . And the valuable ecological value of the grassland .

  2. It would be a terrible shame to lose this asset forever. I remember how helpful Wellesbourne were when I was training. I hope they come through this. worth a visit to see the Vulcan as well.

  3. Another example of how the legal system and the establishment of the country continue to act for the interests of the wealthy few against that of the many.

  4. What a shame but just another example of greedy individuals exploiting every opportunity for personal gain folk who know the cost of everything but the VALUE of NOTHING ! they contribute to the creation of broken Britain
    Good luck to the business owners and for once the local council

  5. I worked on and ran a business on Wellesbourne for over 30 years one of the originals. Wellesbourne is a superb place to have operated from. It was thanks to the Littler family family. Allow me to firstly state that as an aviation enthusiast and pilot retired, I am always saddened to see any airfield go exspecialy one with hard runways, you could never afford to replace them, at least for light aircraft training, and social use. However what’s happened here is that when someone like myself, instructor owner retires, the new owners in general, business men with a PPL have taken over without a license or lease have not understood or choose not to under stand the conditions which we were allowed to operate on. No lease or license, one months agreement from either side to vacate. This may sound harsh, however the Littler’s only charged a peppercorn rent allowing us to make a living and of course passing that onto our customers. It should also be remembered that this was the Littler’s farm that was taken from them and their farm house knocked down at the start of ww2 and only returned in the 60’s and its thanks to them that they allowed the their airfield to be licensed and thousands of people have acheved their dreams of obtaining a pilots licence and gone onto the military and civil commercial jobs as well as private flying.
    One other thing, I know they made little or no money from this enterprise up until I retired anyway.

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