View Full Version : Developers wanting Airports for Housing Estates.

18th May 2014, 12:33
Was just reading about the closure of Manston airport on the 15th, very sad news. The UK seems to be losing airports all over the country.

Why do developers always seem to want to build houses on airports, when there are often thousands of acres of land around the district that could be done over as housing estates. It seems there is almost a pathological attraction to developers. Or do people just dislike any form of aviation that much.

Mr Chips
18th May 2014, 12:58
Not green belt, good infrastructure, available.....
How many reasons were you wanting?

18th May 2014, 13:10
Manston has had little or no aviation value for years except as a diversion while it was equipped for that role. It's only conceivable role would be as a maintenance base for heavy checks and/or completions by 3rd party maintenance companies, but cost competition from Eastern Europe and/or the rest of the world ditched that.

Now let's have a brief mourning prayer for Tempelhof, ending with "Good Riddance, Thank you Lord, (insert Allah if appropriate), Amen."

18th May 2014, 15:44
Or do people just dislike any form of aviation that much.

There seems to be, buried in the British psyche, a type of social loathing to anything that is needed in daily life and is somehow invisible except when it is needed. Flying machines are only thought about when they are being used or when they create nuisance. It would seem in other similar nations that infrastructure is cherished and respected and planned properly with suitable investment. Short termist investment policies abound in the UK for the most part and the results are there for all to see. Airports and airfields are ripe for housing development, but the question has to be asked in the case of Manston as to what any potential incomer will do for work ? Thanet has a dearth of well paying job opportunities. Perhaps someone imagines that the influx of new residents will commute into central London ?


Krystal n chips
18th May 2014, 17:15
" Now let's have a brief mourning prayer for Tempelhof, ending with "Good Riddance, Thank you Lord, (insert Allah if appropriate), Amen

Erm, what's wrong with Tempelhof ( as was, and yes, I have visited the place ) in your opinion that is ?......:p

On the other hand, any redevelopment of the bleak, windswept dump known as Leeds would only be beneficial to the world in general.

18th May 2014, 18:47
Same problem over here in the US, short-sighted (or bought-off) local politicians approve housing development right up to the edges of the airport, then the noise complaints start.
Once an airport is closed it is almost certain that it will ever be re-opened again as one.

18th May 2014, 18:56
There are also plans to build 5000 apartments on the old Berlin-Tempelhof airport.

18th May 2014, 21:27
I'm a US builder (see below), and I can offer this explanation-

Airfields are mostly level and clear of trees and obstructions such as utilities which reduces the land grading costs to almost nothing. Site grading can represent a fair chunk of money. Going against that is the cost of concrete removal if the strip was paved, or it can be converted to a boulevard for the entry road. They generally have decent road access to the area which makes the location more viable for sales. They have all the utility services available though they will need to be upgraded. Utilities will usually do this gratis since their customer income will be greatly increased. There is plenty of space to work within which makes the actual construction faster and easier. There is also built-in water run-off for the whole site so no grading needed for that. In short it's the ideal place to build being less costly, and that is what drives every business because lower costs equal higher profits.

It seems there is a difference in terms between the UK and the US. Over here, the person or company which purchases the land and plans the development is called a "Developer" and they rarely have anything to do with the actual construction. What we call a "Builder" is the person or company who actually constructs the structures and they rarely do more than purchase a lot to build on. In the grand scheme of things the developer is who selects the sites so don't blame me for putting myself to work building there- if I didn't do it someone else would. By the point of my involvement it's all a done deal. The developer generally makes the most profit while the 'lesser' guys like me make wages which vary from decent to good if we can stay busy enough. So blame the developer, not me, for creating the loss of airfields through greed. I have no need or desire to do that. In fact one of my own dreams is to build in a "Fly-In" community, something that used to be a more common idea which seems to be dying as land costs increase. Personally I think that would be the ideal use for the lesser used larger airfields whicgh would at least keep them alive albeit in a slightly different form.

18th May 2014, 21:35
I live close to an old RAAF Airfield - RAAF Laverton - that was carved off the base a few years ago and sold off to developers. It is now a housing estate !!!

OK, the RAAF had really stopped flying there and it does have RAAF Base Pt Cook a few kms away which is where the museum is but is is a big loss of space and of course just compounds the traffic problem !

18th May 2014, 22:44
Like most things we have a romantic view of life. In years past we had a massive number of airfields many being bases utilised by our large and vibrant Royal Air Force. Those days are gone. Manston, while being a terrific airfield, has been under utilised for years and yes I have landed there commercially and privately.

It is simply the way of the world. Commercial flying is centred elsewhere and private flying will never be as common and as cheap as it is in the USA. Private flying will continue to thrive at the airfields where it currently does so. Under used, large and expensive places like Manston will continue to disappear.

Such is life.

18th May 2014, 22:47
'They' installed a sex offenders prison at what used to be RAF Coltishall.

18th May 2014, 22:49
I visit Santa Monica, California, most years, and there is a move to close down the airport there. The Donald Douglas museum at S.M. has produced a bumper sticker " I LOVE aiplane noise !! " I don't dare use it in S.M. - in case I get a brick through my window, but display it with pride in N.Z. !!

Should be available Worldwide !

18th May 2014, 22:57
Panshangar is under threat. Considered "brown field" it can be built on whereas most of the land surrounding Welwyn Garden City is green belt. The owners can make squillions out of it by selling to a developer, as opposed to the rent they get now. Its loss is inevitable. :(

19th May 2014, 01:44
Why do developers always seem to want to build houses on airports, when there are often thousands of acres of land around the district that could be done over as housing estates.

Because construction in the UK is centrally planned by the government, and Labour decided that new construction must be on 'brownfield' sites; what we used to know as old-fashioned curios like 'factories', 'pubs' and 'airfields'. Which the country apparently doesn't need any more.

It's one of the most absurdly short-sighted policies since Labour gave government control of construction through the planning system after WWII.

19th May 2014, 03:19
It's amazing how many small airports have been plowed over and turned into housing developments. Airports that used to be out in the sticks get surrounded by suburbs, become a "noise" annoyance, and too valuable to be underutilized.

Many small airports I've landed at are now gone, with only streets named "Airport Road" to indicate they were there. :(

Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields (http://www.airfields-freeman.com)

19th May 2014, 04:17
Down in Melbourne Oz, the former primary Essendon
Airport has been a local developers' dream, located
on prime suburban land with squillions to be made.

I believe to date the air ambulance activities is the
only thing that've prevented these vultures closing
the airport and cashing in on redevelopment.

19th May 2014, 04:21

I believe they are upgrading the runway - I read a thread on the Aussie forum - so that might put paid to any sale.

Even Melbourne Airport is having noise complaints but luckily they normally get short shifted because it was there so early.

19th May 2014, 04:37
True 500, Tulla was built out in the (then)
mulga so that noise wouldn't be an issue
to the Melbournites, but developers have
pushed the estate envelope as far as they
possibly can and will continue to do so.

Can't say I'm up with the times down there
but I do know they pushed the 'cheap land
available' line.

19th May 2014, 04:55

One thing I can say for certain is Melbourne Airport will always be there, even if they build houses up to the edge of the airfield - which is hard except for one side. Too much has been spent on the airport as well as other infrastructure including a well integrated freight / logistics hub around the airport.

19th May 2014, 05:11
..........Melbourne Airport will always be there............

Never say never, bet Donald Douglas said that about Santa Monica once.

19th May 2014, 05:55
Never say never but you don't build a greenfields site and then move it within 50 years.

Well, most normal people don't.

I would be interested to know if they have caveats on the land houses are built on
in line with the runways.

Worrals in the wilds
19th May 2014, 07:17
I believe to date the air ambulance activities is the only thing that've prevented these vultures closing the airport and cashing in on redevelopment.
Essendon is also listed in the Airports Regulations (made under the Airports Act) which makes it tricky to sell off for non-aviation activities. Not impossible, but tricky.
Section 2.02 applies. :8
Airports Regulations 1997 (http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/F2012C00544/Html/Text#_Toc332622715)

19th May 2014, 08:18
One should remember that many airports were established only for military use during WW2, so it is reasonable to release the land for other use.

There is a vast area to the west of London with excellent motorway and tube links that would make an ideal site for housing and industrial development. :)

19th May 2014, 10:17
I would be interested to know if they have caveats on the land houses are built on in line with the runways.

Our Council gave permission to a "developer" for land across the road from our local airport, and in line with the runway, and part of the process was to "notify the neighbours" and get their opinion.

Our Aero Club had no objection to the development in itself - would have made no difference if we had, but at least our objection would have been recorded - but suggested that a clause was built into the permit to prevent any owner, present and future, of buildings on the site, to ever complain about the presence, or noise, of the airport.

No such clause was added, so I guess future pilots, aircraft owners and operators will eventually have a battle. How can bureaucrats be so inept, are they trained in the art, is there a Degree in Stupidity ?

19th May 2014, 11:09
Watch RAF Middleton St. George/Teesside Airport/Durham Tees Valley Airport.

The current 'owners' appear to have bought the property with the only idea to run down its traffic to the point that it is 'un-economical' and than apply for change of use and planning permission for houses.

19th May 2014, 11:53
I will be sad to see the closure of Manston for housing development, as I was when the historic RAF West Malling station went the same way a few years ago. Both of these Kent airfields played vital roles during WW2, and both had notable airmen based there at various times. Manston had Roly Beamont flying Tempests to shoot down many V1 flying bombs in 1944, and a large number of other famous names used its facilities during the frequent dogfights over East Kent. West Malling included Guy Gibson night fighting in Beaufighters (before the dams raid), "Cats Eyes" Cunningham, and Peter Townsend was station commander when some FW190 fighters landed there by mistake when they got lost and thought they were back over France. (Yes, that Peter Townsend, the one that nearly married Princess Margaret!)

I do hope that the two excellent aircraft museums at Manston will survive the coming redevelopment, long-term:

RAF Manston History Museum - The RAF Manston History Museum (http://www.rafmanston.co.uk)
Spitfire and Hurricane Memorial Museum - Spitfire and Hurricane Memorial Museum Manston Kent (http://spitfiremuseum.org.uk)

19th May 2014, 15:19
This actually is a foreseen result of one of 2 Jags Prescott's policy changes in 2006. It was claimed to be an 'oversight' and would be rectified n the final version. Needless to say, no correction appeared - and airfields are disappearing, as forecast at the time.

The government’s most recent planning policy statement (PPS3) states that previously developed brown sites should be considered for housing developments. When defining brown sites certain facilities were excluded, namely hospital sites and airfield. In a revised draft of the planning policy statement the airfield example has been removed. As this change is tucked away in an annex it would hardly be noticed, but thanks to someone in the aviation world spotting it they are now up in arms.

Airfields are locations with previous development, namely a runway, a tower and a few hangars, but otherwise surrounded by ample green land. As build-up areas are not good for safety in the immediate vicinity of an airfield and as residents would probably start complaining of noise, airfields were hitherto unavailable for developers. With this sneaky change in the policy statement they are becoming a target and many small airfields used for flight training and recreational flying could be lost to make room for urbanisation.

19th May 2014, 17:10
I bet a good Q300 pilot could still 'get one in' at Plymouth. Maybe?:eek: