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Airfield plans put forward
FEARS have been raised that a historic First World War airfield could come under threat if plans to develop part of it are allowed to go ahead.
Developer ZeroC is inviting people to attend a public consultation next Tuesday and Wednesday as it prepares to submit a planning application for land just inside the perimeter of Old Sarum Airfield.
But local councillor Ian McLennan says residents in Ford and Old Sarum are concerned that the developers are threatening the airfield conservation area and says he fears the airfield could be lost forever if the plans are approved.
The prospect of development on three perimeter areas was included in Wiltshire Council’s South Wiltshire Core Strategy as part of a management plan for the airfield in 2010.
Concerns were raised about its inclusion at the time and failed attempts were made to get a runway at the site listed as this would protect land within a certain distance.
Cllr McLennan, who is the Wiltshire councillor for Laverstock, Ford and Old Sarum, said: “There are better hangars than at Old Sarum, and other airstrips that are comparable, there are some better building; elsewhere, but there is nowhere that has got all those things together.”
The second oldest active airfield in the UK, the site is now mainly used by Old Sarum Flying Club, flight training schools and a skydiving company.
Cllr McLennan has been on the flying forum for about 15 years and says they only get about a dozen noise complaints a year but he fears more housing, especially social housing where people don’t get a say in where they go, could lead to more complaints and if anything happens to restrict flying, the airfield would struggle to survive.
ZeroC wants to build a mixture of residential and commercial properties over the three perimeter areas in a design that will “complement the setting”. But Cllr McLennan says this includes knocking down the current control tower and putting a new tower, café and visitor centre past the industrial part of the site.
He said: “The conservation area was granted to protect the largely undeveloped perimeter, the hangars and the airstrip.
“Any development around the perimeter would end the whole purpose of the conservation area.”
To find out more about the plans and the site, visit old-sarum.co.uk.
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