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Dunsfold Aerodrome Considers CLEUD Appeal Decision

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

On Friday 1st April 2011, Dunsfold Park Ltd submitted an application to Waverley Borough Council for a "Certificate of Lawfulness of Existing Use" (CLEUD) in connection with the use of the Aerodrome. The application was made under s191 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 for unrestricted aviation use of the application land as an aerodrome.

The purpose of the application set out through fact based evidence and law, the underlying lawful use of Dunsfold Aerodrome. An application under s191 is treated differently to a normal planning application; it is a legal matter and as such both the planning policy and planning merits of the use are irrelevant.

On the 1st July 1948 (the day the first Town and Country Planning Act became law), the use of the land was already established as an aerodrome (the use having begun during 1942 upon the completion of its construction that year) without any planning restriction or condition.

The use of the land for flying was confirmed when a permanent planning permission was granted in 1951, again without restriction. Despite numerous other planning permissions being granted over time, no further planning permission was required for the flying use of the Aerodrome. Any and all sub-sequent planning permissions granted for flying use were, in fact, unnecessary and the planning conditions attached to them cannot restrict the use of the land for flying and related purposes.

Waverley Borough Council dismissed the application and on Friday 2nd September 2011, Dunsfold Park Ltd submitted an appeal against this decision. A public inquiry commenced on 31st January 2012 at which a government appointed inspector and a legal advisor reviewed both sides of the case. On Thursday 5th April 2012 the decision on Dunsfold Park Ltd's appeal was published.

The Inspector concluded that the 1951 planning permission is most likely the permanent base line planning permission, but a reversion to it can only take place upon the expiry of a temporary planning permission which he concludes is in force until 2018.

This point was also conceded by Waverley Borough Council during the inquiry and is in line with the position that Dunsfold Park Ltd has maintained since 2002, that the aerodrome has an underlying permanent consent for aviation.

In response to the decision Dunsfold Park Ltd comments: "Dunsfold Park Ltd's legal team is still considering the Inspector's decision in full as he has said we must wait until the current temporary position is concluded by 2018 at the latest, before reverting to our underlying permanent consent for aviation. However, we are extremely pleased to have made a significant leap forward in determining the aerodrome's longer term future. For the first time since we acquired the site in 2002, we are now in common agreement with Waverley Borough Council that our 1951 planning permission for the manufacture, repair, maintenance and flight testing of aircraft, which does not have any conditions restricting aviation movements, is the permanent underlying planning permission for the aerodrome, a view which the Inspector has also endorsed in his decision. This enables us to begin the process of exploring the site's future as an aviation centre in more detail and with much more certainty, given the Government's support for aviation in the new National Planning Policy Statement (NPPF) which was published just before Easter."