29 Mar 2018: Important Planning Change Proposals

On 27th March 2018, Martin Gosling (FFA Chairman), Andrew Cragg (FFA Treasurer) and Paul Stephens (FFA Secretary) met with Rt Hon. Grant Shapps MP (Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation) and Mathew Bolshaw (Public Liaison Officer to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation).

The meeting was to discuss what the APPG aim to achieve for General Aviation. Their mission statement includes words like “making the UK the best country in the world for General Aviation” and they believe “that a network of GA airfields must be protected and enhanced by the government”. The APPG on GA has 147 parliamentary members, which is a formidable voice. Their members include Grant Shapps the Chairman, Lord Rotherwick the Vice Chair and The Earl of Stair – all being members of the FFA so we are well placed as they are very aware of potential airstrip problems, because they all have airstrips / airfields themselves.

Although our meeting was not the occasion to raise individual members’ problems, Grant explained what the APPG are doing to make GA more prominent in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). This important document sets out the government’s planning policies for England and how they are expected to be applied. Unfortuately GA has not featured in this guidance which has led to airfields not having the protection from development that they deserve. The term airfields does of course include our airstrips.

The government are revising the NPPF with a draft version which can be seen here if you want to trawl through it. For ease of reading, I have extracted the relevant paragraphs below.

For the first time GA is mentioned in this draft NPPF with a new paragraph 105(f), which states Planning policies should “recognise the importance of maintaining a national network of general aviation facilities –taking into account their economic value in serving business, leisure,training and emergency service needs, and the Government’s General AviationStrategy”

This is good news, but the AAPG has recognised that it isn’t enough, so they would like the 4 ammendments below added to this draft NPPF. This is where they need our support and would like as many people as possible to sign the online form which will help GA airfields and our strips when the developers want to bully us or planning issues arise.


In paragraph 105, subsection (f), remove “maintaining” and insert “protecting, maintaining and enhancing”.

105 f) recognise the importance of maintaining protecting, maintaining and enhancing a national network of general aviation facilities –taking into account their economic value in serving business, leisure,training and emergency service needs, and the Government’s General AviationStrategy”


In paragraph 180, after “music venues,” and before “and sports clubs”, insert “general aviation airfields,”

180. Planning policies and decisions should ensure that new development can be integrated effectively with existing businesses and community facilities (including places of worship, pubs, music venues, general aviation airfields and sports clubs). Existing businesses and facilities should not have unreasonable restrictions placed on them as a result of development permitted after they were established. Where an existing business or community facility has effects that could be deemed a statutory nuisance in the light of new development (including changes of use) in its vicinity, the applicant (or agent of change) should be required to secure suitable mitigation before the development has been completed.

(As I understand it, this helps where someone new comes into a community and starts objecting about existing facilities – like our airstrips)

In the Glossary at Annex 2, under the definition of Previously Developed Land, after “This excludes:” and before “land that is or has been occupied by agricultural or forestry buildings”, insert “land that is or has been used for aviation purposes;

Previously developed land: Land which is or was occupied by a permanent structure, including the curtilage of the developed land (although it should not be assumed that the whole of the curtilage should be developed) and any associated fixed surfaceinfrastructure. This excludes: land that is or has been used for aviation purposes, land that is or has been occupied by agricultural or forestry buildings; land that has been developed for minerals extraction or waste disposal by landfill, where provision for restoration has been made through development control procedures; land in built – up areas such as residential gardens, parks, recreation grounds and allotments; and land that was previously – developed but where the remains of the permanent structure or fixed surface structure have blended into the landscape.

(My understanding is that this will help get round airfields being classified as brownfield sites)


In the Glossary at Annex 2, insert the following new definition: “General aviation airfields: Licensed or unlicensed aerodromes with hard or grass runways often with extensive areas of open land related to aviation activity. Airfields form part of the national transport infrastructure. Changes in technology will require aerodromes to adapt and change over time.”

(Please note that this clarifies that our unlicensed airstrips are included in the definition of GA airfields)


If you agree with these proposed changes, please take 60 seconds to complete this online form so that the APPG can add your name to the NPPF consultation. This can and will make a difference to the protection of our airfields and airstrips.


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