The operators of Old Sarum Airfield are aggrieved. Again.
Having failed to persuade a government inspector and a High Court judge with arguments in favour of their development plans, they’re issuing a writ against Wiltshire Council alleging breach of contract.
The council, or at any rate its Salisbury District predecessor, flirted with them and led them on, they complain, and now they’ve been let down.
They keep talking about an agreement that was made with the district authority to reduce the number of flights and the associated noise in return for permission to build a ‘mixed use’ scheme involving a flying hub and new homes.
How far did this process of negotiation actually go? Is there anything on paper? If so, I would urge them to publish it, in the public interest.
Considering how much money they reckon they’ve lost in recent years, the airfield operators, who spent £5million preparing their doomed planning application, still seem to have plenty available to splash out on lawyers.
They are also pursuing a damages claim against Phoenix Life, alleging that as the freeholder of a building that was used by Equinox International, it was responsible for damage to the Grade 2* listed Hangar Three, which they blame on vibrations from Equinox’s steel cutting equipment.
Equinox has been gone for about four years now, and bits have continued to fall off the hangar ever since. There’s been plenty of time to start restoring it.
But I’m told the hangar has changed hands in the meantime, apparently to a company based in the Bahamas.
Having been up there very recently and taken a look, it’s my architecturally unqualified view that the building is unlikely to survive another stormy winter while legal actions drag on and on.
And once it’s gone, of course, we’ll have lost a key element of what makes the airfield worth preserving as a historic conservation area.
It is way past time for the authorities to act.
While all this is wending its weary way through the system, Old Sarum Airfield says it’s going to bring back flying to recoup some of its losses. Aircraft at an airfield – who’d have thought it! I do hope it happens.
But will the pilots they ejected be eager to return?