Rural airfield flights set to be cut
VILLAGERS have welcomed moves by a district council to reduce flights from a rural airfield that have “grown like Topsy”.Use of land at Cherry Tree Farm, Monewden, near Woodbridge, as an airfield has been a local bone of contention since 2004 when, according to a district council report, it began to be used by the Horizon Flying Club.
By David Green
VILLAGERS have welcomed moves by a district council to reduce flights from a rural airfield that have “grown like Topsy”.
Use of land at Cherry Tree Farm, Monewden, near Woodbridge, as an airfield has been a local bone of contention since 2004 when, according to a district council report, it began to be used by the Horizon Flying Club.
Some people claim it has created a “blight” on the sale of local homes.
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Now Suffolk Coastal District Council is considering enforcement action over an alleged change to commercial use without planning permission.
Members of the area development control committee will be recommended on January 4 to authorise legal action to limit activities to a maximum of 150 flights per year.
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According to a report by council officers, an examination of log books suggested there had been 512 “movements” - take-offs and landings - in 2004 and 896 movements in the first nine months of this year.
The report states that an airstrip was created in the early 1970s for use by the farmer who had agricultural interests in other parts of the country and travelled by private plane.
Between 1975 and 2004 a number of other people - family and friends - used the airstrip for leisure flying, the report states.
However, local residents had contacted the council in 2004 after the Horizon Flying Club, formerly based in the Elmsett area, began to use the airfield.
Internet web pages suggested that the club offered both basic and advanced training, the council report states.
Philip Ridley, head of planning services for the district council, said it appeared that use of the airfield had “grown like Topsy” from agricultural to leisure and then commercial.
George Ralli , chairman of Monewden Parish Council, said there would be a “considerable” welcome for any enforcement action taken by the district council.
“People will be mightily relieved. Some of them feel there has been a blight on selling homes in the area since the use of the airfield increased,” he said.
Claudine Felton, who has lived with her husband, Howard, at Red House, Monewden for the past 25 years said the last 18 months had been a “nightmare”.
The couple's house had been for sale and two prospective buyers had withdrawn. Mrs Felton said she suspected it was the result of the presence of the airfield.
“It has been a very distressing time for us. In the early years, when only the occasional plane touched down, we didn't mind at all but disturbance has increased considerably. It has been awful,” she added.
Neither the Horizon Flying Club nor Michael Wright, who owns the airfield would comment yesterday.
It is understood that the club challenges the flight movement figures put forward by the council and is seeking legal advice.