Filton Labour accused of backing ‘vanity’ airport scheme
Published on: 17 Jan 2014
Filton councillors who voted against South Gloucestershire’s planning blueprint have been accused of backing a “vanity airport scheme”.
Cllrs Ian Scott and Adam Monk rejected the South Glos core strategy after Labour gave their members a free vote on the scheme.
However the blueprint, which will dictate infrastucture projects in the area until 2027, was overwhelmingly supported by councillors, including Filton’s Roger Hutchinson.
Conservatives said that any moves to reopen Filton Airfield would “smash the quality of life of the thousands of residents who live under the airfield’s flight path.”
Stoke Gifford Conservative Councillor Keith Cranney said: “I’m hugely relieved, on behalf of the community that I represent, that a majority of councillors have supported the planning inspector’s rejection of the vanity scheme put forward by Labour councillors to reopen the airfield to passenger flights as part of a new Filton International Airport.
“Filton Labour councillors were all over the place at the council meeting. One of them voted in favour of adopting the Core Strategy while the other two voted against adopting it. One of them seems to have realised that you cannot safeguard the local aerospace industry by burying your head in the sand, but the other two still haven’t got it.”
The decision follows last year’s approval of the strategy by independent Government Planning Inspector Paul Crysell, who concluded that the strategy was ‘sound’ and suitable for adoption subject to a number of final modifications.
As South Gloucestershire’s main planning document the strategy sets out the area’s agreed overarching development vision until 2027, helping the council to guide delivery of the new jobs, homes and infrastructure that will be needed in the future while protecting the area from “inappropriate or undesirable development”.
Economic measures set out in the strategy include the creation of three new Enterprise Areas in Filton, Severnside and Emersons Green, with the potential to deliver thousands of new jobs by 2027.
The strategy also makes provision for a total of 28,355 new homes, including affordable housing, of which the majority will be located near major employment sites in the North Fringe areas of Filton, Patchway/Cribbs Causeway and Harry Stoke. Housing development will be accompanied by new public transport infrastructure and community facilities such as schools, community centres and open spaces, to enable the new and existing communities of South Gloucestershire to prosper.
The decision to adopt the strategy follows public consultation over a number of years, as well as a full independent public examination.
The final approved version of the strategy, including all agreed modifications, will be published by the council after Christmas.
Labour Group Leader Andy Perkins said that whilst some councillors felt it was best to have a plan in place to regulate future development, for others the Airfield was a ‘line in the sand’ and they could not vote to accept its closure.
Cllr Scott told the South Glos Labour website: “Local people strongly oppose the closure and this is not just a sentimental reaction. Filton Airfield could have a future as it is a key component of the unique hub of high-tech industry in the Filton/Patchway area, strategically located close to the M4-M5 motorway and rail interchanges. South Gloucestershire Council should have continued to designate it as an airfield even if the current owners did not want to run it.
“5,000 additional houses on Filton Airfield will only worsen the environmental and transport problems of our area. The road network can hardly cope as it is.”