Mission Aviation Fellowship

Blackbushe Airport seeking support for modernisation plan – consultation closes 16 Feb 2024

The operators of Blackbushe Airport are seeking support from the general aviation community in an application to deregister the ‘common land’ status of the area that the airport is located on in order to be permitted to update some of its infrastructure.

According to the Surrey airport operators, since the 1960s the continued operation of Blackbushe Airport on an area of Yateley Common has presented challenges for the development and infrastructure at the airport due to the fact that it the area is classed as common land. Various attempts have been made to resolve the issue, but according to the airport operators there was until relatively recently a lack of a legislative framework to enable the change.

In 2015, Sir Peter Ogden purchased Blackbushe Airport from the previous owners, British Car Auctions. Recognising that the airport had suffered from a lack of investment over many years, and that many of the facilities were long past their intended life span, Sir Peter entered an application to deregister approximately 115 acres of the active aerodrome from Yateley Common. While the application was successful at Public Inquiry, the decision was subsequently overturned by the High Court and thereafter by the Court of Appeal. The best that the application could achieve was to deregister the footprint of the Terminal Building and part of the area where the airport café is located, which was enacted November last year.

Now, the airport operators are trying a different approach, which is to offer an equivalent-size parcel of private land in exchange for the declassification of the common land that the airport sits on. This has now been achieved through the acquisition of circa 35.3 acres of land at nearby Cottage Farm Yateley that the airport acquired in 2021. Since that time, the airport operators report that they have been working on the required reports, surveys and other supporting material for what is known as a ‘Section 16’ application for exchange.

If the exchange is approved, the airport operators say: “We will aim to modernise Blackbushe, improving the facilities for the existing mix of general aviation facilities, and maintaining accessible public areas where the local community can continue to enjoy aircraft up-close.”

 The airport is home to half a dozen flying schools, including renowned aviation charity Aerobility. Those familiar with the airport will be aware that the buildings have certainly seen better days and that available hangarage and other MRO facilities are distinctly limited.

The airport operators add: “We are not targeting a big increase in movements like at Farnborough, but we do want to provide hangarage to shelter aircraft already here, and provide facilities expected for an airport of size, including supporting developing industries like electric aircraft. The airport operational buildings and current café are all very tired and are long overdue an upgrade. We have two based charities, which are also in desperate need of appropriate facilities improvements.”

The consultation opened on 02 January and runs until 16 February.


Author: FTN Editor

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