SHIELD Update following SODC Scrutiny Committee Meeting 13th Dec 2018 AB

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Chalgrove Airfield Action Group

SHIELD update following SODC’s Scrutiny Committee Meeting 13th December 2018

Members of SHIELD attended the Scrutiny Committee meeting at Howbery Park to state their

objections to the inclusion of Chalgrove Airfield in the latest version of the Local Plan. Whilst

we were encouraged to see that the number of houses has been reduced from 3000 to 2025

during the Plan period, it is clear that the intent would be to continue to build out beyond the

Plan period.

There were many Public speakers regarding other sites, and some who wanted to speak to

the plan as a whole. Of the Public speakers who attended, only one was in favour of the

Plan; he was a representative of the Atomic Energy Group speaking on behalf of Culham

Science Centre. All the other speakers were against either the entire Plan, or against specific

parts of the Plan.

For Chalgrove, Ann Pritchard spoke on behalf of Chalgrove Parish Council, and Paul Boone

spoke on behalf of SHIELD. Both speakers highlighted our concerns with the continued

inclusion of Chalgrove, given that the entire Local Plan was being reviewed in light of the

issues with bringing the Chalgrove site forward. For the first time, the Chalgrove speakers

were joined by Vicky Fowler, Senior Partner at Gowling LLC, the legal firm representing

Martin-Baker. Vicky Fowler is a well-respected planning lawyer recognised nationally for her

expertise, and is the first female Chair of the Compulsory Purchase Association, so is

extremely well placed to advise Martin-Baker. Vicky made a strong speech to the Scrutiny

Committee setting out Martin-Baker’s opposition to the development on the Airfield, pointing

out that Compulsory Purchase had to demonstrate that it was in the Public Interest, and that

the Public Interest would be better served by allowing Martin-Baker to continue to service

over 90 Air Forces around the world. She also confirmed that Martin-Baker have received

CAA permission to carry out low-altitude ejection seat testing at Chalgrove Airfield. We are

delighted to confirm that Vicky will also represent Martin-Baker at the forthcoming Cabinet

and Full Council meetings next week.

Cllr Steve Connel (Didcot NE) put forward a motion to include a statement of concern to the

Cabinet regarding the Martin-Baker situation. This was seconded by Cllr. Ian White (Chinnor).

Unfortunately, Cllr. Elaine Hornsby (Wallingford) was unable to attend and was substituted by

Cllr. John Cotton (Berinsfield), who rubbished the statement from Vicky Fowler, stating again

his fervent belief that Homes England as the Landlords would be able to bring the site

forward, and also stating that the Deliverability test was passed as the Landlord had given

their assurance that the site could come forward. The motion was defeated. One bright spot,

however, was that the Planning Officers have agreed to re-word the statements regarding

Chalgrove Airfield to confirm that the site is an active airfield used by more than just Martin-

Baker, and that there are no active negotiations between Homes England and Martin-Baker.

One other interesting item was a statement from Holly Jones, Planning Policy Manager of

SODC, that if the Airfield did go ahead, there were no plans for work to start until 2026.

We now move forward to the Cabinet and Full Council meetings, where the Parish Council,

SHIELD and Vicky Fowler will continue to put the case that there are insurmountable legal

issues regarding the Chalgrove site.

chalgroveshield.org.uk press@chalgroveshield.org.uk facebook.com/chalgroveshield

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