Doncaster Sheffield Airport: £3.1m needed as plan to reopen popular airport which closed last year is set out
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Doncaster Sheffield Airport closed last autumn, following a short strategic review by its owners, despite the offer of financial support from South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA) and City of Doncaster Council.
But the council has not given up on the battle to revive the airport, which it says has huge potential for expansion and could support nearly 36,000 jobs, boosting South Yorkshire’s economy by a massive £1.56 billion a year.
A new report, due to go before City of Doncaster Council’s Cabinet on Wednesday, April 12, sets out the latest steps being taken to reopen the airport, with councillors being asked to set aside £3.1 million which could be needed to cover the costs should the council have to apply for a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) to buy the site from owner Peel. This sum does not include the price of purchasing the site should a CPO go ahead.
It also reveals how Peel has recently offered a lease of the airport to the council, though it says the terms proposed are ‘not acceptable’. Talks are taking place between the council and Peel’s representatives, the report states, to explore whether a longer lease with different commercial terms could ‘provide a basis upon which to achieve the council’s objectives’.
Doncaster Sheffield Airport acquisition process ‘will take time and it will not be cheap’
The council’s strategy states how the airport ‘should be acquired from Peel with a view to its reopening’, but it says attempts to introduce to Peel third parties who might take over running the airport have so far proved unsuccessful.
“Having regard to the desirability of retaining the airport and returning it to operations, the council is proposing to continue discussions with Peel, aiming to achieve a successful outcome by agreement,” it states. “However, as a contingency measure it is necessary to make preparations to exercise compulsory acquisition powers. The council has appointed external specialist infrastructure planning lawyers in order to support the preparation and promotion of the CPO.”
The project to reopen DSA has been branded South Yorkshire Airport City and includes plans to grow a cluster of businesses and commercial activity that complements traditional aerospace functions, including logistics. The wider development could include retail, leisure and residential opportunities, the report states.
It is hoped that the costs will ultimately be covered by regional funding recovered from a loan previously extended to Peel, with a decision by SYMCA on this funding anticipated this June.
Mayor of Doncaster Ros Jones said: “Sadly, our award-winning airport has now closed, but the fight is not over! Our aim is to reach agreement on the acquisition of the airport with Peel, but if necessary we will seek to compulsorily purchase the site and we are preparing for that eventuality now, should it be required.
“The acquisition process will take time and it will not be cheap. However, this airport has the potential to be the jewel in the crown of the Doncaster and South Yorkshire economy. It is an investment in the future of this great city and the region. That is why this report to Cabinet sets out the latest position and asks for the support to progress our endeavours for the site’s future. I hope a sale can be achieved but, if not, we have to plan for other ways to secure the airport for the aviation industry, our communities and our economy.”