Jobs plan is the end for airport

Sheffield City Airport  from the air.
Sheffield City Airport from the air.
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AROUND 230 new jobs are to be created on the site of the defunct Sheffield City Airport, after councillors approved changes to development plans for the land.

Work is due to start in the coming weeks for distribution firm TNT UK to move onto the site, off the Parkway.

The company is due to open a new depot there next spring.

Developers at the airport, which closed to air traffic three years ago, said the approval of an application to change the time scale of building work was “vital” to get TNT on site.

Their request, to allow them to develop a 22-hectare site into a business park in phases, rather than all at once, was approved unanimously by members of Sheffield Council’s city centre, south and east planning board yesterday afternoon.

Speaking after the meeting Graham Sadler, managing director of Sheffield Business Park, said the new planning permission would allow the site to be established bit by bit.

“This consent gives us the ability to create new jobs on the ground at a very early stage,” he said.

“For a project of this size, putting all the infrastructure in place would take some time.

“This way, we can get businesses on the site now, which is great news for the economy.”

Councillors approved the application despite hearing fierce objections from campaigners who are still battling to save the city’s airport.

Retired lecturer Stewart Dalton told the board that the decision should be deferred until an independent body thoroughly investigates the circumstances surrounding the closure of the airport in 2008.

Campaigners have for many years wanted an investigation, after owners Peel - which still holds a 50 per cent stake in the site - declared that the Sheffield airport was not commercially viable.

Under terms of the contract between the original airport company and the Sheffield Development Corporation redevelopment agency, the owners could have the publicly-owned land for £1 if it did not make any money after 10 years.

Mr Dalton, appearing at the hearing with fellow airport campaigners Mike Moss and Tony Hall, said that the council should not be allowed to make a decision on the plans because there was no documentary evidence that the land had ever actually changed hands.

But planning officer Lucy Bond told councillors the history of the operation and the land transfer was “not relevant” to the board’s decision, which should be made purely on grounds of planning considerations.

Planning agent Matthew Shepherd, acting for the developers, said: “The applicants recognise that people are disappointed at the closure of Sheffield City Airport.

“But that is a matter of history now - and we believe it is time to look to the future.”