East Surrey MP Sam Gyimah has welcomed the latest rejection of Redhill Aerodrome's bid for planning permission to build a hard runway at the airfield.
The Planning Inspectorate last week announced it was rejecting Redhill Aerodrome Limited's (RAL) appeal against local planners' refusal for a hard runway at the aerodrome in Kings Mill Lane, Redhill.
The appeal against Reigate and Banstead Borough Council's and Tandridge District Council's decisions to refuse planning permission had the support of some, including the Crawley-based Gatwick Diamond Business forum.
Last year, the influential business group said it “strongly” supported RAL's application for planning permission to replace the existing grass runways with a hard runway and permission for ancillary infrastructure, comprising realignment of existing taxiways, drainage improvements, replacement runway lighting and new approach lighting. The group said permission would bring “real economic benefits” as well as add to East Surrey's attraction as a business location. Its chief executive, Jeremy Taylor, accused people who objected to the scheme of “standing in the way of economic recovery.” However, Salfords and Sidlow Parish Council and the Gatwick Airport Conservation Campaign (GACC) were among those who objected to the plans, along with Mr Gyimah.
The East Surrey MP has consistently spoken out against a hard runway at Redhill Aerodrome since entering Parliament in 2010. Most recently, he wrote to the Planning Inspectorate in December, setting out the major objections to the proposals in a letter co-signed with Reigate MP Crispin Blunt.
Last month, Mr Gyimah also submitted a statement to the appeals process. Responding to the Planning Inspectorate's announcement, Mr Gyimah said: “The decision by the Planning Inspectorate to reject the application for a hard runway is extremely welcome. “As I stated during the appeals process and in the letter I co-signed with Crispin Blunt MP, these proposals represented a completely inappropriate use of green belt land, and would have had a major detrimental impact on the surrounding area.”
He continued: “Above all, this result is a testament to the persistent hard work of Keep Redhill Aerodrome Green (KRAG), Nutfield Parish Council, and the local residents who campaigned so strongly against this development. “They have had the misery of fighting off speculative applications year after year, and I hope that this will be the last time they are called upon to do so.
He concluded: “Both Tandridge District Council and Reigate and Banstead Borough Council recognised that this was the wrong development in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the Planning Inspectorate has rightly endorsed their position in the best interests of our community.”
Ann Bartaby, director of Redhill Aerodrome Limited, said: "We are extremely disappointed by the Inspector's decision not to support our proposals to help sustain the future of its many users, tenants and valued customers, and to provide certainty for all concerned.”
She said: “It is a great pity that the livelihoods of so many people and the opportunities for additional jobs, training and apprenticeships, have been given so little weight."
She concluded: “We will now take time to review the operation of the aerodrome, in conjunction with our tenants, with a view to making best use of the existing facilities.”