Redhill Aerodrome owners win key appeal in hard runway battle

Redhill Aerodrome has won a fresh chance to get planning permission for its controversial bid to replace its grass runway with a hard one.

For last week, a High Court judge upheld Redhill Aerodrome Limited's (RAL) appeal against the decision by a Planning Inspector earlier this year to refuse permission.

The High Court ruled that the Planning Inspector had misapplied Government planning policy on the Green Belt.

The finding last Friday (July 18) quashed the Inspector's decision.

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government may decide to appeal against the High Court Judgement and has 21 days in which to lodge any such appeal. If an appeal is not lodged, or it is rejected, the matter will be returned to the Planning Inspectorate. The Planning Inspectorate will then decide if the application needs a new planning inquiry or whether it will consider the matter through a different route, such as through written representations.

A spokesman for RAL said: “Redhill Aerodrome Limited is pleased that the High Court Judge agreed with our position on Green Belt policy, and now awaits the next steps.”

RAL had appealed at a Public Inquiry in January against Reigate and Banstead Borough Council's refusal of planning permission to replace the existing grass runways at the airfield in Kings Mill Lane, Redhill, with a hard runway.

The application, turned down last summer, had also sought permission for ancillary infrastructure, comprising realignment of existing taxiways, drainage improvements, replacement runway lighting and new approach lighting. It had been recommended for refusal by the borough council's planning officer, and had earlier been refused permission by Tandridge District Council's planning committee. Salfords and Sidlow Parish Council also objected to the plans, which were attacked too by East Surrey MP Sam Gyimah, who said they would have a “monumental impact” on residents and their quality of life.

The Gatwick Airport Conservation Campaign, the main environmental body concerned with Gatwick Airport and which has as members nearly 100 borough, district and parish councils and environmental groups, also spoke out against RAL's plans.

But the scheme did draw support from Gatwick Diamond Business, which represents business and commerce in the region. The borough council threw the bid out though, as recommended by its planning officer, on grounds of inappropriate development in the Green Belt. In his report, the planning officer stated: “Whilst the economic benefits of the proposal, with additional jobs and Gross Value Added (GVA) that it would bring are acknowledged as favouring the application, they are not, on balance, considered of very special circumstance to outweigh the harm to the Green Belt by way of the intensification of use and increase in built development.” The aerodrome had said the proposals would generate £29 million in GVA – the measure that refers to the economic contribution that arises in the local economy through the employment and business activity of the aerodrome and its tenant businesses. RAL appealed the borough council and Tandridge District Council's decisions last August and requested an Inquiry.

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