Rochester “Airport” in Kent (a tiny airfield) wants to build a hard surface runway

Rochester “Airport” is a tiny airfield south of the town. It has little current activity. A new lease was granted to the Rochester Airport Operating company in 2009, and this year the  Conservative led Medway Council announced their wish for some of the airport land to be separated off and developed for Industrial use. This proposal would close one of the two grass runways but allow some of the monies raised by development to pay for improvements to the infrastructure that would remain. An invitation to tender was issued and the operator became the preferred bidder. The airfield has now produced a public exhibition setting out their optimistic vision for the airfield, including plans for a hard surfaced runway.  This is part of a process to draw up a master plan. Local ward councillors are very enthusiastic about the hard runway proposals which they claim will make the airfield more “sustainable” and help make money.  Not unlike Redhill aerodrome.

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Rochester “Airport” is a tiny airfield, that currently has very little activity.  

Wikipedia says of it:   

In 1999 a group of aviators and local businessmen at Rochester formed a company dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the long tradition of aviation at Rochester Airport, its service to the local community and for its longer term preservation. The historic site of Rochester Airport was saved from closure for the short term by the efforts of this group of local business people, in the face of pressure by the Labour controlled Local Council to re-zone the airport site as Industrial Development land. Rochester Airport plc, proposed to continue operation of the airport even though the timescale given for takeover was minuscule. They want to continue, as far as possible, the existing services provided for private, business and emergency aviation services and enhance them to bring increased economic benefit to Medway, its surrounding area, its businesses and its community. Significant voluntary work has contributed to the financial viability of Rochester Airport which has been operated on a care and maintenance basis in light of the difficulty in securing a proper lease. The airport now had a five year lease, outside of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954, which expired in January 2009, and entered a crucial phase of negotiation with Medway Council.

On 13 January 2009 a fresh lease, with conditions, was granted to Rochester Airport Operating company. This length of lease is still insufficient to attract any real investment and, although the years of decay have been halted, no real improvements are financially possible for the benefit of the airport’s users. 90% of the Microlight fleet relocated to Damyns Hall Aerodrome near Upminster. One of the long-established flight schools has gone into administration.

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In 2013 the Conservative led Medway Council announced their wish for some of the airport land to be separated off and developed for Industrial use. This proposal would close one of the two grass runways but allow some of the monies raised by development to pay for improvements to the infrastructure that would remain.

An invitation to tender was issued and the existing operator became the preferred bidder after the closing date of 12 March 2013. Precise details of how the council proposes to finance the scheme prior to the development plans being implemented is initially unclear.

Local ward councillors are very enthusiastic about the proposals and once they are implemented should see the Airport being available for use for a greater part of the year due to an all weather surface being planned for the 02/20 runway. It is hoped this will make the airport operation more sustainable and help finance some of the proposed initiatives.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rochester_Airport,_England 

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Rochester Airport’s vision for future unveiled in two-day public exhibition

by Jenni Horn (Kent online)
Rochester airfield

 

A public exhibition setting out a vision for the long-term future of Rochester Airport takes place this week.

The two-day event will be held next door to the airfield at the Innovation Centre, Maidstone Road, Chatham, from 10.30am to 8pm today and tomorrow.

Medway Council’s cabinet agreed before Christmas to begin the process of drawing up a master plan for the airport that will form the basis for any future development.

Deputy leader Cllr Alan Jarrett said the exhibition will bring residents and businesses up to date on the plans.

He added: “It will be the first of many opportunities for comments to be made on these exciting proposals, which ultimately will form the basis for any future planning application.

“I would encourage both residents and businesses, especially those living near the airport, to come along and help us to shape how best to protect the site and open it up for business, tourism and the wider community.”

Visitors to the exhibition will be able to give their feedback on the plans, which include replacing many of the existing buildings.

One of the grass runways on site will be closed and replaced with a new parallel grass and paved runway.

The paved runway will allow modern small aircraft to climb to a higher altitude very quickly, reducing the impact of noise on surrounding homes.

The new runway layout could allow 29 acres near to Rochester Airport Industrial Estate to be developed as a new hub for science or technology-related firms – with the potential to eventually create up to 1,000 new skilled jobs.

 

Map to illustrate location of Rochester airfield – about 3 km south of Rochester and Gillingham, beside the M2 motorway.

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See also

 

Redhill Aerodrome applies yet again for a hard runway to replace 3 grass runways

31 July 2012

Owners of Redhill airfield, RAVL, have submitted a revised application for a hard runway after their first bid failed.  They want to replace the 3 grass runways with a one concrete one, giving it potential to increase flights from 60,000 to 85,000 a year and for larger planes. Tandridge and Reigate councils turned down the original bid last year. The airfield think their new application “addressed the reasons for refusal in 2011″. As usual, they exaggerate the  number of possible jobs that might be created – alleging it will increase the 450 jobs it supports today to some 590 in future – and attract investment to the area etc.  Over 1,000 people opposed the original plans which were rejected last year, realising the plans would create an unacceptable level of noise and pollution,  breach green belt restrictions, and destroy the landscape.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?page_id=11043

 

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Important economic information on Redhill aerodrome hard runway application kept secret

March 11, 2013

Redhill Aerodrome has been trying to get a hard surfaced runway to replace its current three grass runways for many years. It submitted an application in July 2011, which was refused by Tandridge District Council (TDC) and Reigate & Banstead Council (R&B). Redhill Aerodrome then submitted a very slightly changed application in June 2012. The concrete runway would enable the aerodrome to increase flights from 60,000 to 85,000 a year including larger planes. There are problems with the application in relation to drainage and a local brook, as well as traffic impacts. But the aerodrome was asked by the councils to supply more detailed information on future activities of the aerodrome. This information is being used to back up the aerodrome’s claim for special grounds for building in the Green Belt. The aerodrome asked both councils to sign a confidentiality agreement so that the economic information supplied (eg. employment) would not be published. R&B signed the agreement, but after taking legal advice Tandridge refused to do so. Local campaigners say the application cannot be assessed without access to the financial details including employment and impact on the economy.    Click here to view full story…