The Campaign

 

Welwyn Hatfield Council will be holding a final consultation on the Draft Local Plan sometime in the summer of 2016 before it is submitted to the Government. This is the final chance to submit comments on the plans

 

Documents which related to this consultation are here:.


1. Inspectors Report on Panshanger 2004 extract

2. Kember Louden Williams report (see point 7 below)

3. York Aviation Report (see point 8 below)

4. Appendix 2 landscape report summary 2012

5. Landscape report findings

6. 2014.12 GAAC Panshanger Categorisation

7. CH&PP October 15th 2014 Meeting extract



The initial consultation by the council ran from November 2012 to the end of January 2013.   During this time, the campaign group was formed and worked to raise awareness of the plans among the local and aviation  communities, encouraging people to comment on the proposal.

 

The LAA and GAAC original responses are shown below.These are still essentially valid as nothing has changed (although report reference numbers are different)

 

 

Since then we have made great efforts to promote our campaign and raise awareness in both the local and aviation communities.  At the present time we have over 1100  members and rising every day.


We have tried to fight the proposals on various fronts:


1. NPPF Guidelines


The GAAC, LAA and Sport England were consulted by the council about the airfield activities and its key position supporting pilots in North London and Hertfordshire. The council have still not adequately answered the case that they have ignored the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) guidelines (paragraph 33) stating that their plans should “take account of their [airfields] growth and role in serving business, leisure, training and emergency service needs”.


Nor have they addressed the fact that they would be removing a sporting facility with no adequate plan to replace it – another guideline from the NPPF. 



As the GAAC say in their summary,

 

 

 

2. Heritage

 

A detailed report on the Heritage of the airfield by Atkin’s was commissioned by the Council.  Although they concluded that although the airfield had “a recognisable character of its own and a character that still reflects its relationship to its earlier WWII role” most of the individual buildings were not unique enough to warrant a preservation order.  Neither did they think that the remaining WWII buildings taken as a whole were worth protecting.  Two small buildings were mentioned as possibly worth preserving, but that would not preclude the proposed development.  A disappointing conclusion which will allow Mariposa to demolish the WWII buildings in the near future as they clear the site.

 

3. ACV (Asset of Community Value)

 

Under recent localism legislation, community groups can ask local councils to list a local facility as an asset of community value, which gives them an opportunity and time to raise funds to buy it, when it is offered for sale.  We tried to get the airfield registered to prove how much we value it, but as we expected, Welwyn Hatfield council turned down our application with some very inadequate reasoning.  We obtained the notes from the meetings and it was obvious the councillors wanted to turn it down from the outset.  Despite complaining, we have not been able to affect their decision.  The legislation is so biased to the owner, that it appears to be really more window dressing than a real help to local communities.

 

4. Wildlife Monitoring


We have done a lot more work on documenting the wildlife on the Airfield and adjacent Hillyfield site which had not been done previously because of restricted access (it’s an airfield!).  Apart from the Runway and taxiways, the site is covered in long grasses which are deliberately not cut and this provides a habitat of unimproved grassland which is rare in Hertfordshire.  This Habitat supports an abundance of wildlife, especially birds, many of which are considered under threat nationally.  Thanks to two dedicated members of the British Ornithology Trust who have been monitoring the site, we now have records of Barn Owls, Red Kites, Kestrels, Linnets, Sky Larks and Yellowhammers all of which are red listed (those with declining populations in the UK).  We also know Bats and Badgers are using the site and there is an abundance of insects (particularly butterflies) and reptiles, which we have not yet been able to record. Whilst individual species are important, it is the entire undisturbed habitat provided by the airfield that is crucial.  It is doubtful whether Mariposa will carry on encouraging the wildlife here in the same way that the flying school did whilst they wait for planning decisions.

 

5. Report by the North London Flying School

 

The NLFS were asked to write a report of their operations by the council, which we obtained under a freedom of information act.  This demonstrates the economic and social value they were able to contribute to the Borough, despite the constraints they were under from the owners.  In a period when many flying schools were struggling, the NLFS was gaining strength and popularity each year.

 

6. GA Challenge Panel Report

 

As a result of the governments red tape challenge to reduce unnecessary legislation, the GA red tape challenge has produced significant progress.  A panel was set up to work out how to promote GA in this country and make sure the economic, training and social benefits were not lost. The formation of a GA unit in the CAA, which will be re-examining regulation for GA is a start, but the panel also made recommendations about the lack of planning protection for GA airfields, potentially cutting the sector from the roots.  The challenge panel report is about to be accepted by the government and has led to the commissioning of another report by the Department for Transport to collect up to date statistics for GA in the UK, which should be completed by December 2014.   Following on from this in the new year 2015, will be an evaluation of whether a strategic network of GA airfields needs to be protected from planning blight, to retain the viability of the sector. In this case there would be additional planning restraints built into the NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework – the local planners bible) by the government to make sure the GA ‘industry’ is not killed off by individual council decisions.  This would be a very strong point in Panshanger’s favour. Download Here And see the article from Flyer here

 

7. Kember Loudon Williams Report

 

This was commissioned by Panshanger People and details the advantages of Panshanger aerodrome and the need to retain GA aviation facilities in the UK.  It reiterates the NPPF guidelines for retention as well as the strategic need for airfields in the country, especially in the SE. Download Here

 

8. York Aviation Report

 

This was also commissioned by Panshanger People and demonstrates the current value of the aerodrome to the Borough and more importantly, the potential value in jobs, training and revenue, if allowed to expand business on the site and realise the full potential of the airfield.  This includes statements of interest in air taxi services by local big businesses such as Tesco and EE, which could help them retain their head offices in Welwyn Hatfield.Download Here