ABOVE: The last scheduled service operated from the airport in July 2011

A petition to protect the former Plymouth airport site for a further five years of aviation-exclusive use has garnered over a thousand signatures in its first week, as the site’s owners face legal action over breach of its lease covenants.

‘We are calling on relevant authorities to ensure that this land is protected again for another five years exclusively for aviation use,’ explains the petition, adding that ‘this action will not only restore an important part of our city’s infrastructure but also signal commitment towards supporting local growth and development’. It also added that alongside facilitating tourism and business opportunities, the 113-acre site could also host emergency services such as air ambulances ‘critical for [the] community during times of crisis’.

The former airfield was originally opened in 1931 and saw brief service as RAF Roborough during the second world war, after which the facility reverted to civilian ownership. A CAA Public Use Aerodrome License allowed Plymouth airport to be used for public flights, although with Air Southwest’s service to London Gatwick withdrawn in 2011, the airport closed at the end of the year.

Plymouth City Airport is wholly owned by the Sutton Harbour Group (SHG), a company Plymouth City Council says has failed to honour its lease agreements. As SHG has ‘failed to provide the Council the reassurance the authority requires that it will comply with its leases for the Plymouth City Airport site, the Council has now served SHG a formal legal notice,’ confirmed the council. As freeholder of the site, the council is providing the company ‘one last chance to remedy the situation’ before it progresses with legal action to terminate the leases.

Describing the ongoing impasse as “disappointing,” Plymouth council leader Tudor Evans added: “As I have said before, we are a major city, we have ambitions to grow and thrive and an airport must be part of that story”. He added that the Council has made a number of efforts over several years to progress discussions about the airport, including efforts to merge the lease.