Multi-million pound deal for Welwyn Garden City airfield land ‘unofficially agreed’

PUBLISHED: 14:22 19 June 2017 | UPDATED: 15:46 19 June 2017

Panshanger Aerodrome from the air. Picture credit: Peter Sterling.

Panshanger Aerodrome from the air. Picture credit: Peter Sterling.

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A multi-million pound deal to buy land for a Welwyn Garden City airfield is on the brink of being finalised, the Welwyn Hatfield Times understands.

Panshanger Aerodrome has been closed since Septemeber 2014, and had been put forward by landowner Mariposa Investments as a potential housing site in the borough council’s Local Plan last year.

However, following a late U-turn, the proposals were scaled back to leave room for an airfield, and a source close to the subsequent negotiations revealed that an agreement to buy the land has been unofficially reached.

The insider claimed that should everything go through, there are plans for it to be reopened as a community airfield, creating around 25 jobs and 17 apprenticeships.

He added there would also be a new community club house, restaurant, bar and function room to the north east corner – away from any potential new housing – next to a helicopter flight training school.

There would also be a light and microlight aircraft flying school, the WHT understands.

The news will be music to the ears of aviation enthusiasts, many of whom vehemently opposed Mariposa’s attempts to sell the entire site for housing.

Jerry Larke, who lives in Kelbys near the airfield, said reopening an airfield would be “absolutely brilliant”.

“I think there are so many people here that are interested in flying,” he added. “I have missed the aircraft flying across, it’s almost like the area has died since it stopped.”

However, Lemsford Village resident Jane Quinton, who used to keep an aircraft in Panshanger, questioned whether the council had fully considered if an airfield could be “crammed” into the remaining space beside housing.

She said: “I would welcome the development, but I would still like to see the feasibility of whether that is a large enough piece of land to accommodate all the hangars and auxiliary buildings.”

It is understood that the potential new owner also wants to develop a 700-metre Tarmac runway, angled to avoid any aircraft taking off or landing over nearby houses, as well as new hangars.

However, the insider stressed that even if the deal goes ahead as expected, the plans would still hinge on approval from Welwyn Hatfield Council.

Mariposa Investment declined to comment.

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