To receive a presentation from J Nolan, Service Director (Commercial and Regulatory).
J Nolan, Service Director (Commercial and Regulatory), was in attendance.
North Weald Airfield (NWA) was located on a 150-hectare site and was the Council’s largest land asset. It was used for general aviation and commercial purposes as well as outdoor events and leisure uses. The west side was mainly confined to aviation uses, while the east side was for non-aviation uses. NWA had been established in 1916 and had served as a frontline fighter station in World Wars 1 and 2. The RAF squadrons from the Norwegian Air Force had been based there during the second World War, and a strong officer and veteran link still remained. The Council had purchased NWA in 1979 from the Ministry of Defence.
The Council was now seeking to commission consultants to produce a masterplan to guide development to meet the requirements of the Submission Version of the Local Plan for NWA; otherwise known as Local Plan site, NWBE4. The consultants would be required to produce a masterplan to include 10 hectares of employment land, the expansion of aviation activities and space for leisure / community usage. In addition to designing an indicative layout, the consultants would also need to prepare all supporting documentation. Key non-aviation activities would have be relocated to the eastern side. A strategic expansion of the west side for aviation uses with a new control tower, would also include the construction of a new access road to the airfield from the B181 road. It was envisaged that the current Grade II Listed control tower would be reutilised, and the east-west runway developed as a taxiway for warehouses located either side. On the adoption of the Submission Version of the Local Plan, the boundary of the Green Belt Land (GBL) would be revised to lie outside NWA. However, the impact of future development on neighbouring GBL would need to be carefully considered. North Weald Bassett had a separate masterplan, but the two masterplans would complement each other. Therefore, expressions of interest were being sought.
Councillor H Kauffman was proud of the Council’s involvement in NWA. He agreed with the separation of aviation from non-aviation activities and would welcome the compatibility of uses with the airfield site. The longevity of uses that might come along over the next twenty years from the airline and delivery industries could therefore, assist in the significant future proofing and ethos of what NWA was about. J Nolan replied that members had always wanted to maintain historic links and there were heritage aircraft housed on the site, thus concentrating aviation usage on the west side would achieve this with an aviation hub.
Councillor J McIvor commented that the reorganisation of the airfield was welcomed. However, taking account of the anxiety of residents that it did remain an aviation area, he asked if there had been an analysis of what the level of aviation growth could be and its impact on noise. J Nolan replied that NWA was a very popular place. The National Police Air Service had recently relocated its base there and there was a current planning application from Herts and Essex Air Ambulance to extend its facility on the site. There had also been expressions of interest from a heritage aircraft museum and a flight training school. Once the Submission Version of the Local Plan was adopted then the masterplan could get underway.