Why latest airport proposal must not get off the ground
I READ with a great deal of interest of what Plymouth Civic Society has to say in Keith Rossiter's article, as it does have a great deal of merit, and if it does nothing else but to get people around a table talking and looking for a way forward, then that can be only to the good.
My view though is that to use what remains of Plymouth Airport after the builders have been in to just use it to control a few helicopters and as a baggage handling depot for Exeter is a non starter.
I say this on the grounds that Plymouth needs a full blown airport in order to attract inward business and tourism, and if Plymouth has no airport at all, then we just as well all pack up and go and live at Exeter.
I simply do not understand Plymothians who are quite happy to hand everything over to Exeter and not fight for this city and its needs.
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The developers want to make maximum capital out of their assets without giving a second thought to the needs of the people of this city and as long as they make their profits they could not give a damn of what happens to Plymouth afterwards.
Yes Plymouth is boxed in and out of control as the article states, but much of this has been self inflicted by giving Sutton Harbour Holdings (SHH) a 150 year lease, and worse still, allowing them to sell off the land without the people of this city being able to do anything about it.
Viable are sitting in the wings, waiting to give the airport another try, and surely, they deserve to be given that chance as believe me, if Viable walk away from this, then I doubt very much if there will be anyone else willing to take up the challenge.
You can be sure that SHH will fight to the bitter end and will object to anything that denies them the right to build on the airport, starting off with the core strategy outline plans which goes before the inspectorate in the spring.
The people of this city must stand firm on ring-fencing the airport in order to apply pressure on SHH to sell, or accept some other carrot in place of it. Failure to do so will mean that Plymouth will lose its airport. You have had fair warning.
I do agree with Plymouth Civic Society in one respect, that a trade off being given by Plymouth City Council with other land that they hold of equal value, starting off with Seaton Barracks, and believe this is perhaps a good way of going about it. Perhaps Viable could make up the difference with a cash bid. But the airport should not be sold off under any circumstance.
Yes Plymouth is 'boxed in and out of control in its plans for Derriford' much of which can be put at the door of those who agree to the lease arrangement with SHH. It's the duty of this current council to not just sit idly by whilst the inevitable happens, but to help facilitate any action that allows Viable to reach it's goal. If they then fail, then to hell with it and send the bulldozers in.