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Campaign to Save North Weald

FIGHTING TO PRESERVE NORTH WEALD AIRFIELD FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS AND AS A LASTING MEMORIAL TO THOSE PAST.

North Weald Airfield has, for many years, been the subject of speculation with regard to its future. Various plans have been put forward including a waste incineration plant, lorry park and a holding centre for asylum seekers. However the main threat has always been that of the housing developer's bulldozer. North Weald Airfield Users Group (NWAUG) was established to give the airfield and its users a voice and to rally support to fight plans to redevelop the site for housing and preserve the airfield and its history for future generations.

 

 

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the future for North Weald Airfield?

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Click on the above Twitter & Facebook banners for the most recent posts and latest developments relating to the future North Weald Airfield. See below for older news and campaign history.

SEPTEMBER 2014

As of September 2014, the situation relating to the future of North Weald Airfield is as follows: 

The Airfield's Owners, Epping Forest District Council, decided in August 2013 that there should be mixed development of the land adjacent to the airfield (to the East and also some of the land within the airfield boundary), while retaining aviation for the time being. EFDC is now consulting on the nature and extent of this development which it is proposed should include both residential and commercial aspects.  NWAUG and other supporters of the airfield believe that any development close to or on the airfield should be planned in such as way that it is not in any way in conflict with current or future aviation operations and other leisure activities, but should rather compliment these. We believe aviation itself should be promoted and the airfield licensed to allow commercial operations, such as business aviation and air taxis to operate, thus helping the airfield become more sustainable.  Local people have been consulted on how the village of North Weald up to the boundaries of the airfield could be shaped in future. However very little information relating to plans for developments on the airfield itself has so far been made public by EFDC or its consultants, Savills. Meanwhile EFDC is considering bringing in a 3rd party company to take over the day to day operation of the airfield, although it is proposed that this only be on the basis of a 3-5 year agreement, which still leaves a question mark over the long term future of the aerodrome as an active flying site. North Weald Airfield Users Group, other supporters of the airfield and local residents groups are monitoring the situation and pressing for early sight of any plans and proposals so that we can evaluate and comment on them as appropriate.  Please keep checking our posts on social media for any new developments.

AUGUST 2013

The recent decision by Epping Forest District Council's Cabinet Committee to retain aviation a North Weald Airfield and only permit housing and similar developments on land adjacent to the airfield is in danger of being overturned. A meeting of EFDC's Overview and Scrutiny committee scheduled for 27th August 2013 could see demands for the decision to be overturned in favour of developing the entire airfield for housing and other developments, resulting in the loss of aviation...and the airfield!

Here is a link to EFDC's original press release relating the decision to adopt "OPTION 3" (continued aviation combined with development on land adjacent to the active airfield site):

http://www.eppingforestdc.gov.uk/news/2013/07/councillors-support-north-weald-homes-and-aviation-option/

At the time of writing, we understand that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting will not be held in private session (at least not entirely) so that the public may be permitted to observe proceedings, although direct contributions (unless lodged through one of the councillors in advance) are not allowed.

We would urge supporters of North Weald Airfield to turn up at EFDC's Council Offices in Epping on the date of the meeting to make their presence felt. NWAUG will co-ordinate this show of the strength of opinion to retain the airfield with other local groups including the North Weald Residents Association. We will post timings and any further relevant information as soon as we have it.

 

SEPTEMBER 2012

EPPING FOREST DISTRICT COUNCIL
LOCAL PLAN CONSULTATION

YOUR HELP AND SUPPORT IS REQUIRED!

Epping Forest District Council (also owner of North Weald Airfield) is currently conducting a public consultation on the shaping of the "LOCAL PLAN" which should become a template for development in the district for the foreseeable future. The consultation period runs from now until 15th October 2012. Some background information can be found on EFDC's website here:


http://www.eppingforestdc.gov.uk/news/2012/08/have-your-say-on-the-local-plan-community-choices/

Once again, a series of options have been proposed for North Weald Airfield, ranging from closing the airfield and developing it for "other uses" to developing it as a centre for business/corporate aviation.

The document containing these options can be found here:

http://plan1.eppingforestdc.gov.uk/Northgate/LDF/LDFExplorer/Home.aspx

and the subsequent link here:

http://plan1.eppingforestdc.gov.uk/northgate/ldf/ldfexplorer/DocumentList.aspx

(there may be issues with the Google Chrome browser, in which case we recommend using Internet Explorer or another browser)

The best way to find the sections relating to the airfield and surrounding area is to search for "North Weald" (normally CRTL+F in most browsers) and enter "north weald".  The most relevant parts are under "Chapter 4: Options for growth and distribution of development"

Once you register on the EFDC consultation website you can comment on the various options being presented by clicking on the appropriate links.

You may also wish to suggest further options.  For example, perhaps an additional option should be to develop part of the airfield for business aviation (but not the entire airfield as appears to be the suggestion in "OPTION 3").  This balanced development could be achieved working with the existing aviation tenants, would be more in keeping with the current activities and history of the aerodrome and most  likely be an acceptable solution for local residents, rather than a "full blown" dedicated business airport.  It would require a lower level of licensing, require less investment to achieve, yet would still provide the additional income needed to make the airfield less dependent on the Saturday market for its financing.

Please visit the EFDC website and make your voice heard!

Thanks for your support.

NWAUG September 2012


MARCH 2011

HALCROW CONSULTANTS PREPARE PROPOSALS FOR
NORTH WEALD AIRFIELD FOR EPPING FOREST DISTRICT COUNCIL

After many years of pressure from NWAUG and other interested parties, EFDC appointed consulting company, HALCROW to prepare a study which the Council refers to as an "Aviation Intensification Study".  The remit has been to look specifically at ways in which the aviation aspects of the airfield could be developed to provide more revenue.  We see the healthy development of a balanced mix of aviation as crucial to ensuring the airfield's survival and to provide a viable alternative to development for housing and some of the other less desirable options that have been put forward in recent years.  HALCROW have met with aviation tenants, NWAUG, various operators, local residents groups and other interested parties in order to gather the necessary information and opinions to allow them to prepare their study.  This study is due to be presented to the Council's North Weald Airfield and Asset Management Cabinet Committee on Tuesday 22nd March at EFDC's Civic Offices in Epping High Street.  We understand this meeting is open to the public.


SEPTEMBER 2009

DEVELOPERS TARGET NORTH WEALD AIRFIELD AGAIN
AS PART OF REVIEW OF THE EAST OF ENGLAND PLAN

It was recently brought to the attention of the North Weald Airfield Users Group that yet another consultancy period is currently ongoing, as a result of EERA's call for sites and the review of the East of England plan to extend its scope to 2031.

The general information page on the EERA webpage is here:

http://www.eera.gov.uk/What-we-do/developing-regional-strategies/east-of-england-plan/east-of-england-plan-review-to-2031/

It states that the public consultation runs from 2nd September to
5 pm on 24th November 2009.  This appears to have been kept very low key, as we received no information about this from the powers that be and it has not been mentioned in the press.

Although the consultation document itself

http://eera-consult.limehouse.co.uk/portal/planning/rssto2031scenarios?pointId=903074#document-903074

does not make a specific reference to North Weald
, two developers have submitted proposals relating to North Weald Airfield and surrounding land amounting to a total of 10,000 new homes as part of the "Call for Sites"!  Both proposals were submitted AFTER the Examination in Public of 2006 on the EEP and the Planning Inspector's decision that North Weald Airfield was not a suitable site for such a large scale development.  An opinion which the Government agreed with, in its final published version of the East of England Plan. These proposals therefore completely ignore the overwhelming opinion of those who responded to the earlier consultations and the decisions, made at the highest level, which resulted from it.

 The two proposals call for 4000 and 6000 houses respectively on and adjacent to the airfield.  One of these was reported in the local press at the time, the other not. 

The following document lists the responses.

http://www.eera.gov.uk/GetAsset.aspx?id=fAAzADIANQA5AHwAfABGAGEAbABzAGUAfAB8ADAAfAA1


If you search for  "North Weald", there are two entries in a table, CP57 and CP79.
 
The full list of proposals for Essex is here:

http://www.eera.gov.uk/What-we-do/developing-regional-strategies/east-of-england-plan/east-of-england-plan-review-to-2031/east-of-england-plan-review-to-2031-call-for-proposals/essex-proposals-received/

CP57 was submitted by Land Securities who are major UK developers, apparently with some collaboration with Drivers Jonas.  Their proposal is for 4000 new homes on the airfield. Worryingly they also refer to North Weald on their own website: http://www.landsecurities.com/ls03.asp?PageID=417 talking almost as though the development of the site is a foregone conclusion.  Although they mention some continued aviation in their proposal, we do not believe this would realistically be compatible with an additional 4000 houses on the site and is quite possibly a red herring in an attempt to appease airfield supporters.

CP79 is a submission by Lend/Lease http://www.lendlease.com/ in collaboration with Bidwells http://www.bidwells.co.uk.  This proposes 300 houses by 2021 with a total of 6000 by 2031. Again this ignores the fact that a major development of North Weald was rejected in the final draft of the EEP whose scope was originally to be until 2021.

Full details and supporting documents on both of these proposals, which appear date from the end of 2008 can be accessed by clicking the full list of proposals for Essex at the link above.

The North Weald Airfield Users Group has been digesting all of the detail and documentation and feels that a response and comment during the consultation period is appropriate as well as calling for our supporters to make their voices heard before the 24th November deadline.  Please go to the EERA website at the address shown for details on how to respond.

As we have expressed, until EFDC commit themselves to a clear strategy for development of the airfield primarily for aviation, business and leisure use, then the threat of re-development for housing or other less desirable developments will remain.

March 2009

Proposed Gypsy and Travellers Site on North Weald Airfield

NWAUG is working closely with other local groups, in partcular the North Weald Residents Association in relation to the proposals for a large gypsy and traveller site on the Eastern edge of the airfield. 

Go the the NWRA website for more details.

May 2007

GOVERNMENT SAYS NO TO AIRFIELD HOUSING DEVELOPMENT

The North Weald Airfield Users Group (NWAUG) is now delighted to inform you that on Monday 12 May the East of England Regional Assembly, at long last, published their final version of the East of England Plan.. The NWAUG has studied this not inconsiderable document and are pleased to say that it contains no recommendations for any development at North Weald Airfield.

 

This is the best possible outcome we could have hoped for and it therefore looks as if the future of North Weald Airfield is secure for the time being.

 

In particular we would like to express our appreciation to Peter Kember of Kember, Louden, Williams, who represented us at the Examination in Public (EiP) last year. Without his superb presentation, and your financial support for it, the result of the EiP would probably have been very different.

 

The Users Group will, of course, continue to monitor the situation at North Weald and in the mean time we would like to thank all of you who have assisted us with letter writing, support and fund raising over the last few years.

 

Without your help the outcome would have been unthinkable. Thank you from everyone at the NWAUG

 

The North Weald Airfield Users Group.

***

ENQUIRY IN PUBLIC (EiP) REPORT REJECTS HOUSING DEVELOPMENT ON NORTH WEALD AIRFIELD!
   
   
The Inspector's report following the Examination in Public, carried out at the beginning of this year, was published on 22nd June 2006.  The most significant aspect, in relation to North Weald Airfield, is that the panel found the proposed development of 6000 house on the site to be inappropriate.  There are several references to North Weald in the Report but one of the most significant is:
 
"One distinguishing feature for NW is that the Airfield would form a major previously developed site although the full proposals being promoted by the developers Lend Lease also involve significant Greenfield land. The Airfield is currently in use, however, and a persuasive case was made for its retention for General and Business Aviation and on account of its historical value."

The Panel also shed doubt on the idea that satellite developments, like the one proposed for North Weald, would assist with the re-generation of Harlow.  In its conclusions, the panel has recommended the exclusion of "growth" at North Weald and the consequent deletion of all policies in this respect. It also recommends a reduction in the number of houses in the Epping Forest District Council area.

These recommended amendments to the Plan, now go to the Government for further consultation .  If the Reports findings are implemented, then the airfield will, for the time being at least, have been given a reprieve, which should allow interested parties to focus on its shaping its future based around the existing aviation and leisure activities currently carried out on the airfield site.

We would like to thank everyone who has supported the campaign so far, and, although this is certainly good news, it may not be the end of the struggle, so we will keep the pressure on to make sure the Report's findings are acted upon and will monitor developments accordingly.

***

PUBLIC ENQUIRY HEARING ON NORTH WEALD AIRFIELD
   
    14th / 15th FEBRUARY 2006 at 9.00am.
Spirella Ballroom, Bridge Road, Letchworth, SG6 4ET
   

Those of you who attended the hearing in Letchworth or who listened in on the webcast will be aware that NWAUG's appointed spokesman, Mr Peter Kember of Kember Loudon Williams Planning Consultants made a very strong representation on behalf of the airfield, putting forward a compelling and well founded case for its retention as an aviation and leisure facility.  He backed up his arguments with facts and data relating to developments in General Aviation in the region and the lack of alternative sites that could accommodate the activities which currently take place at North Weald. His statement included quotes from the Halcrow Report of 2002 which clearly identified unique North Weald's potential for Business and General Aviation. Mr Kember also countered several claims and arguments made by the various developers who have drawn up plans to redevelop the airfield for housing.  A transcript summary of Mr Kember's submission can be read by clicking here.  Further details are also available in the recent Press Release (click here).

***

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport and English Heritage have included North Weald Airfield in a list of historic aviation sites which it believes should be protected for future generations.  Details can be found by following this link:

Link to Government Dept. for Culture, Media and Sport Press Release

Although the full consequences of North Weald Airfield's inclusion in this list are uncertain, we urge our supporters to contact the Department for Culture and also English Heritage to seek clarification and to press for protection of the site as a whole and not simply a few individual buildings or structures, as could be the case at the current time.  See the Latest News section for more details.

***

6800 OBJECTIONS TO PLANS TO RE-DEVELOP NORTH WEALD
AIRFIELD WERE RECEIVED BY EERA AS PART OF THE INITIAL PUBLIC CONSULTATION EXERCISE

A list of submissions can be found here

THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO SUBMITTED THEIR COMMENTS AND REPRESENTATIONS!

As a result, North Weald Airfield Users Group has been invited to take part in the forthcoming "Examination in Public" which will further consider the issues raised.

NWAUG objection workshop at North Weald Airfield
on Sunday 6th March was a resounding success!

***

Below are the main issues threatening the future of North Weald Airfield

***

Draft Regional Spatial Strategy for THE East of England targets North Weald for 6,000 houses

Earlier we have reported on the threat to North Weald Airfield, in the shape of several studies relating to housing expansion along the so called "M11-Stansted-Cambridge Corridor",  which identified North Weald Airfield as a potential site for thousands of news houses and a park and ride facility for Stansted Airport. The airfield is owned by Epping Forest District Council, who unfortunately have included the re-development of the airfield in their own planning strategy, rather than adopting a strategy to expand its use for aviation and leisure activities, despite reports, such as the Government commissioned Halcrow Report on business aviation, which identified North Weald's great potential as an airfield.
 
These earlier housing studies and planning strategies have all contributed to the "East of England Plan" drawn up by the East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) as part of the Regional Spacial Strategy (RSS14), which is ultimately intended to become Government policy on housing and infrastructure development in the coming years.
 
This East of England Plan names North Weald Airfield and surrounding land specifically as a strategic site for development of 6000 homes and an industrial area. It also suggests a park and ride facility on the site and even having a rail link passing through.  If this goes ahead, it would obviously mean the end of flying and also the leisure activities at North Weald within a few years' time.  The airfield, which has one of the longest GA runways and some of the best hangarage and maintenance facilities in the South East, and which has been active since 1916, would be lost to aviation and the many other recreational activities which take place there, for good. 
 
Details of the East of England Plan can be found here: http://www.eera.gov.uk/category.asp?cat=452. Chapter 5 "Sub-regional and Sub-area Policy" contains the references to North Weald (12 in all!).
 
The East of England Plan, which is effectively the final study to be produced before the planning policy is adopted, went out to public consultation on 8th December, which lasted until 16th March 2005.  NWAUG believe that in excess of 3000 objections were lodged in support of retaining North Weald Airfield as an aviation and leisure facility.  We arranged a number of events to encourage as many people as possible to take part in the consultation process, including reports and advertising in the local press and also a NWAUG objection workshop at North Weald Airfield on Sunday 6th March which was a resounding success!,
  
Below are examples of the responses which were sent into EERA as part of the public consultation process.
Strategy ST1 Response Strategy ST2 Response Strategy ST4 Response Strategy ST6 Response

For full details of the various paragraphs of the report which related to North Weald click the following links:

RSS 14 Paragraphs Relating to North Weald (word doc)

RSS 14 Paragraphs Relating to North Weald (html doc)

Although the deadline for the public consultation has now passed, if you did not manage to get your objections and comments lodged in time, you may still wish to write to the various organisations and individuals listed below to make your views known.

A sample list of arguments is provided below:

Arguments against the re-development of North Weald  (html doc)

Arguments against the re-development of North Weald (word doc)

Submissions by email should be sent to:

planning@eera.gov.uk

Submissions by post of fax can be sent to:

Alan Moore
Head of Planning and Transport
East of England Regional Assembly
Flempton House
Flempton
Bury St Edmunds
Suffolk, IP28 6EG
Fax 01284 729447

alan.moore@eera.gov.uk

For maximum impact, we suggest you copy your responses to the following:

Rt Hon John Prescott MP
Deputy Prime Minister
Office of the Deputy Prime Minister
26 Whitehall
London SW1A 2WH
john.prescott@odpm.gsi.gov.uk

Lord Rooker (Minister of State for Housing, Planning & Regeneration)
Office of the Deputy Prime Minister
26 Whitehall
London SW1A 2WH
jeff.rooker@odpm.gsi.gov.uk

Eleanor Laing MP (MP for the Epping Forest Constituency, which includes North Weald)
House of Commons
Westminster
London SW1 0AA
lainge@parliament.uk

Or fax Mrs Laing by following this link

Mr. John Knapman, Leader
Epping Forest District Council
Council Offices
High Street
Epping, Essex, CM16 4BZ

Email: jknapman@eppingforestdc.gov.uk and jknapman@chigwell199.fsnet.co.uk
(Epping Forest District Council are owners of North Weald Airfield, and ultimately the decision on its future lies with them).

Alistair Darling MP
(Transport Minister) alistair.Darling@dft.gsi.gov.uk

Tony McNulty (Aviation Minister) tony.McNulty@dft.gsi.gov.uk

Department for Transport,
Local Government and the Regions
Great Minster House
76 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DR

Here are all the above emails addresses again in a convenient list, which you can cut and paste into the address field of your email program, if submitting your objections by email:

planning@eera.gov.uk, alan.moore@eera.gov.uk, john.prescott@odpm.gsi.gov.uk, jeff.rooker@odpm.gsi.gov.uk, lainge@parliament.uk, jknapman@eppingforestdc.gov.uk jknapman@chigwell199.fsnet.co.uk, alistair.Darling@dft.gsi.gov.uk, tony.McNulty@dft.gsi.gov.uk

If you have not already done so, please also register on this website and let us know if you have responded to the EERA consultation.  Once registered, we will keep you informed of developments and advise if further action needs to be taken.

Media Coverage

We managed to obtain good BBC TV News coverage for the Battle of Britain Memorial Service and Fly In on the 14 September. All concerned were amazed at the turn out (several thousand) and this was certainly noted by the Press and TV people. ITN News also reported on the airfield a several weeks earlier. Click the relevant links above to view the broadcasts.

LINKS

Click the links to view the various studies, reports and documents mentioned above:

East of England Regional Plan:

http://www.eera.gov.uk/category.asp?cat=452.

Stansted/M11 Corridor Options Study

http://www.eelgc.gov.uk/Category.asp?lsection=12&ccat=74

Epping Forest Draft Development Strategy 2021 (EFDC):

Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4

Harlow Options Study (Atkins): http://www.eelgc.gov.uk/Category.asp?lsection=12&ccat=409

A map of the planned development, including that at North Weald can be downloaded here:

PDF Version JPG Version

Halcrow Report - Summary of Part 3 "The Future Capacity of Business Aviation"

Halcrow Summary (word doc)                  Halcrow Summary (html)

Thank you very much for your support!

 

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