Bentwaters: Opponents say planners have ‘no option’ but to reject flying from former air base
06:02 12 July 2014
Campaigners fighting to stop what they assert would be an increase in flying at a former military air base claim planners have no option but to refuse the proposals.
The Bentwaters Campaign Group (BCG) has handed Suffolk Coastal District Council a 32-page submission outling its opposition to Bentwaters Parks’ blueprint for the future of the 940-acre site.
The owners’ proposals include formalising uses for nearly 200 buildings and permitting 960 air movements a year, an average of less than two flights a day, for heritage aircraft and occasional business flights.
BCG says it is happy for the Spitfire at Bentwaters to fly on 28 days a year as this would not harm the tranquility of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), and also supports an annual air show as “this is consistent with the heritage needs and represents the right balance”.
BCG leader Mike Sherwen said the National Planning Policy Framework did not permit major development in an AONB unless there are exceptional circumstances, a demonstrable public interest, no other suitable location and a need for the development.
He said: “Our team has thoroughly reviewed every letter written to the council, the local plans, the policy framework and the reasons why the inspector reached his conclusions.
“We can see no basis in law or policy for the planners to conclude that this application should be approved, unless they change the local policy on the hoof, which would be unreasonable.
“There is no benefit to the local economy in the current proposal but potentially significant detriment to existing businesses such as tourism, music at Snape and even those on the base, such as data storage.
“We have considered all the arguments to ensure we have reached a balanced view on all the relevant issues.”
Mr Sherwen said if the council departed from the local plan, it could leave itself open to a “judicial review” of its decision – unless it could demonstrate cogent reasons for such a material departure.
The owners of Bentwaters say their proposals aim to regularise the use of the site.
They deny there will be an increase in flying and have submitted an environmental impact assessment which says there will be no harm to the tranquility of the area.