Call for King of the Netherlands to help save Panshanger Aerodrome

Dean McBride is pictured outside one of the WWII buildings at Panshanger Aerodrome which he wants pr

Dean McBride is pictured outside one of the WWII buildings at Panshanger Aerodrome which he wants preserved - Credit: Archant

THE King of the Netherlands has been urged to swoop in and save an under-threat flight centre in Welwyn Garden City.

The unusual plea was made to King Willem-Alexander, recently crowned the Dutch King, after Britain’s Royal Family declined to intervene.

King Willem-Alexander has been asked by campaigner Dean McBride to help save Panshanger Aerodrome, which is currently being considered as a site for up to 700 homes.

He had previously written to the British Queen, but was told she would be legally unable to intervene.

Mr McBride, who heads up the Holwell Hyde Heritage group, instead turned his attention to the House of Orange, as the new king’s grandfather flew from the site in World War Two.

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He wrote to King Willem-Alexander, recently crowned monarch of the Netherlands following his mother’s abdication, to highlight the importance of the location to his grandfather Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld.

The Dutch royal flew from the aerodrome and trained there along with other exiled armed forces personnel from the Netherlands, while the country was under Nazi occupation.

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In his letter to the Dutch king, Mr McBride wrote: “As Holwell Hyde, it [the aerodrome] was the location of a very large decoy factory which drew enemy planes away from the Mosquito production lines at Hatfield de Havilland.

“Your Majesty, I have set up a small community group called Holwell Hyde Heritage to try and save this aerodrome from being developed into a housing estate and I hope that it remains an aerodrome.”

Mr McBride told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “I am writing to the King to highlight the situation at Panshanger and its historical connection to the Dutch Royal Family.”

He added: “There is no certainty he will respond as I am not his subject but the connection is there and I am hoping he will.”

At the time of going to press the Dutch Royal household had not responded to the WHT’s request for a comment.

The controversial possibility of homes on the site sparked huge protests, with planning chiefs urged to look elsewhere.

Staff at Welwyn Hatfield Council are ploughing through more than 3,000 responses to its controversial housing blueprint, which is part of its Core Strategy.

Planning bosses are set to weigh up whether to amend the plans, which map out where more than 7,000 new homes will go, by the end of the year.

> The Dutch king is not the only European monarch to be approached in the airfield campaign. To find out who else has been urged to throw their weight behind the battle, see next week’s Welwyn Hatfield Times, on sale on Wednesday.

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