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Blackbushe Airport considering appealing Yateley Common land decision

5 minute read
Blackbushe Airport considering appealing Yateley Common land decision

Published by Grace Mcgachy at 1:28pm 27th April 2020. (Updated at 2:16pm 27th April 2020)

Blackbushe Airport in Yateley is considering its options to appeal a decision made by the High Court regarding Yateley Common. 

It is after the airport made an application to deregister the area as common land so it could expand its facilities. 

The current status of the land means Blackbushe is not allowed to build new structures of any kind - and the airport wants to build new hangars, offices and a replacement terminal facility on the south side of the airfield.

It says without these improvements the business is not financially sustainable. 

The airport's website says the hangars that are currently on the site are not owned by Blackbushe Airport and therefore do not provide any income:

"When the airport was sold in 2015, BCA did not offer for sale these hangars, as they had a value to them supporting their auction business.

"Since this time the airport has made a substantial loss (in the hundreds of thousands) each year.

"Most other airports receive a rental income that accounts for around 50% of their revenue.

"This ensures they have a guaranteed income, and are not vulnerable to weather and other factors that might cause aircraft operations to fluctuate.

"At Blackbushe, our rental income accounts for 11.5% of our revenue, and we do not have a stable income source."

Yateley Common Land map Blackbushe Aiport

Blackbushe Airport owns all the land highlighted in red and yellow on the diagram above.

The other land outlined Green is not owned by the airport but is owned by various landowners, including British Car Auctions, Hampshire County Council, MoD and others. 

In 2016 the airport submitted an application to Hampshire County Council to de-register the 114.87 acres from the common land register.

In 2017 a public consultation was launched - the responses comprised 103 objections and 10 letters of support.

Hampshire County Council referred the case to the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) for a decision. 

Following a public enquiry and a visit to the site with Hampshire County Council and the Open Spaces Society in 2019, the Planning Inspectorate issued their decision which granted the application to deregister.

The County Council appealed the decision - and last week a High Court judge overturned the ruling. 

The judge found that the inspector’s decision was flawed, and ‘goes way beyond any reasonable meaning that could be given to the phrase “the curtilage of a building” - meaning Yateley Common remains common land,

Blackbushe Airport said in a statement they are taking advice on their options to seek permission to appeal the decision at the Court of Appeal: 

"Blackbushe Airport maintains that there are grounds, with real prospects of success, to contend that the correct approach is other than as set out in the judgement and that the approach adopted by the Inspector was correct. 

"The Vision for Blackbushe airport is to develop a small, modern aviation facility, that supports small aviation businesses as well as providing services for the community.

"We remain committed to delivering on this objective.

" We strive to create a centre of aviation excellence for small start-up and existing businesses in aviation to thrive. 

"Our plans would create employment opportunities for the local community as well as allowing Blackbushe to continue as a General Aviation hub for generations to come."

Hampshire County Council told Eagle Radio it is pleased with the ruling 'which supports its interpretation of the law in this area.”

Conservation body the Open Spaces Society, which was involved in the inquiry, said it also supports the decision made by the High Court.

Hugh Craddock, a case officer for the society, said they are delighted by the judgement: 

"Blackbushe aerodrome is no more curtilage of the terminal building than Victoria station is curtilage of the signal box. 

"The ruling supports our view that the Commons Act 2006 was never intended to deregister vast areas of common land.  We made detailed submissions to the court and they were critical to the outcome.’

"We congratulate Hampshire County Council on its success in leading the challenge, and offer particular thanks to the society’s legal team in the depth and breadth of its research which helped secure this outcome.’

Read more about why Blackbushe Airport wants to deregister the land.

You can read the decision in full here.