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Fly Plymouth LogoRaoul Witherall, chief executive of FlyPlymouth is leading the charge to reopen and develop Plymouth Airport as a profitable aviation site and has released a number of videos explaining his vision of the viability of the Airport, including a call to fund the vital legal and formal plans to be presented to Plymouth City Council in 2017. You can watch the video here:

Plymouth City Airport Logo

The predictable but sad day the property developer Sutton Harbour Holdings (SHH) closed Plymouth Airport in 2011 was foretold by many in the aviation community as far back in 2000 when Plymouth City Council first leased the site to SHH. Many openly questioned why a property developer, who is in the business of 'regeneration' by building homes on 'disused' harbour sites rather than being in the business of aviation, would get involved in running an airfield with a long history a relatively low volume of activity and therefore low profitability? The obvious 'process' of taking on an airfield, failing to develop it for aviation and then turning the site into housing when the business understandably fails to make profit has spelt the end of many an airfield in the UK in recent decades. So the statement from SHH justifying the closure, claiming it was being used by only 100 people a day and they intend to turn the land into "a ‘garden suburb’ of 1,600 houses, a school, park, shops and restaurants", was unwelcome but expected. Despite many similar examples across the UK local Councils seem blind to the long-term aims of property developers and allow them to lease airfields, with no clear plans to develop the site for the purposes of aviation without monitoring they are indeed doing so or sanction if they do not, even when successive Governments laud the economic benefits of the sector.


Whilst Plymouth City Council’s 'Plymouth Plan' safeguards the site for aviation use until 2031 the 11 years of underdevelopment and its closure over the last 5 years will have a major impact on a formal Examination by a planning inspector in respect of the 'economic soundness' of the Airport in the Spring and Summer of 2017. The same impact will no doubt affect a Government report into the feasibility of the airport to be published sometime in 2016. FlyPlymouth plan to submit robust plans saying “It is vital that the case for aviation be made forcefully and coherently at the Examination in Public, and FlyPlymouth is putting together the team and funding to make that case.”


Raoul Witherall said: “It is now clear that 2017 will be the deciding year in the story of Plymouth Airport. Raoul and his team may well take heart with similar housing development plans at airfields around the UK being refused by local council planning departments namely those for Mantson, Kemble and Blackpool. The local MP Mark Menzies said “Anyone who may be thinking this is an opportunity for development should think again as they would face opposition on an unprecedented scale from people across the Fylde coast."


For more information please see the FlyPlymouth Website by clicking here

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