AN APPLICATION seeking a judicial review into the planning inquiry for homes at Old Sarum Airfield has been turned down. Meanwhile, airfield bosses have announced there will be an increase in the number of commercial aircraft using the site as flying operations return.

The review application was submitted after a planning inspector refused an appeal against Wiltshire Council by Old Sarum Airfield Ltd over plans to build 462 homes and create a “flying hub”, complete with a heritage centre, visitor centre, restaurant, and new control tower.

Wiltshire councillor for Laverstock and Ford, Ian McLennan, speaking of the refusal of the judicial review application, said: “It’s an excellent decision by the judge. It’s time for Old Sarum Airfield to move on and for Wiltshire Council to take charge of the conservation area and look after the restoration of the hangar. Let’s get a heritage group formed now.”

Last week, GoSkydive announced it had reached a multi-year agreement with the airfield operators and would be running from the site throughout 2020 and beyond.

A statement from Old Sarum Airfield Ltd said it would “henceforth operate on a long-term commercially contracted basis, with unrestricted flying as a unique selling point” but it would “remain closed to all private and recreational flying”.

This, it said, would “provide a positive return to the owners instead of the substantial operating losses caused by the need to severely restrict operations”. The deal will allow GoSkydive to make “unrestricted commercial use of the airfield, operating seven days each week with expanded hours of operation”.

This, the statement said, was “the first of the new unlimited flying contracts” and will allow GoSkydive to expand its operation to include parachute training and sport parachuting, adding: “As the new business develops the number of aircraft movements will increase significantly and it is expected that the number of GoSkydive aircraft operating at the airfield will increase.”

The “commercial operations” will not include airlines, it is understood.

The airfield closed in October after giving aircraft owners notice to leave the site in July.

The statement added: “While GoSkydive is the first of what is expected to be several commercial arrangements for operations at the airfield, the airfield will remain closed to all private and recreational flying, indeed all operations other than commercial arrangements entered into by Old Sarum Airfield Ltd.”

“These long term agreements will allow them to build their businesses into the future which will mean more flying and thus more revenue.”

Resident Sarah Champion and member of Save Old Sarum, said: “We’re extremely pleased that common sense has prevailed and hopefully this will be an end to this sorry chapter in OSAF’s history when it could so nearly have been lost. We very much welcome the reopening and look forward to the increased flying activity promised, which consequently will ensure a bright and continued future for the airfield. Now that the planning application has been denied, and with the increased income assured from the commercial operations, we are confident the owner will now be able to focus his energies and resources into repairing the Grade 11* listed hangar too.”

Old Sarum Airfield Ltd has said it will be continuing with a judicial review.