FEARS for the future of Wellesbourne Airfield have been voiced after tenants lost an appeal to renew their leases.
The businesses, which include flight schools and a café, now have less than four months to vacate the airfield owned by Littler Investments which wants to sell the land to housing developers.
The news comes shortly after Stratford District Council began a compulsory purchase order (CPO) of the airfield which opened in 1941 during the Second World War.
But without any businesses, tenants fear the process could take so long the airfield could close before it was completed.
A statement from Take Flight Aviation, on its ‘Save Wellesbourne Airfield’ website, said: “The CPO will take time to progress and the tenants may have left the airfield and the airfield could be closed before the council own it.
“Clearly the planning policy which is abundantly clear, has again been misinterpreted by the judge and it cannot be fair, reasonable or in the public interest to continue with the eviction of the tenants.
“The local authority and the tenants have asked the landlords for temporary tenancies whilst the CPO continues which has been denied. It was even put to the judge that a temporary tenancy should be allowed whilst the CPO was made as clearly as this would be in the public interest, but this was also denied.
“The landlords have shown no compassion for tenants who have provided them with an income for many years.”
The appeal has cost the tenants over £125,000 in legal fees, and they now also face having to pay the landlord’s fees on top.
The spiralling costs have already prompted four businesses to leave the airfield.
Those remaining, which include South Warwickshire Flying School, Take Flight Aviation, Touchdown Café and Warwickshire Aviation, have pledged to fight on and plan to appeal.
A crowdfunder was set up last year to help raise legal costs, and has raised £43,000.
The statement continued: “Let’s face it, if one of the country’s busiest general aviation airfields that has the full support of the local authority is at risk, this really could set the precedent and the thin end of the wedge for general aviation in the UK.
“As with the biblical story of David and Goliath, the tenants at Wellesbourne Airfield are not just fighting for their own personal agenda, but for what is right and for the future of general aviation in the UK. The tenants first two battles may have been lost, but the war is by no means over.”
The district council has confirmed the news would not affect the on-going CPO proceedings.
A spokeswoman said: “The district council is aware of the outcome of the case, which does not change the current CPO proceedings or our commitment to preserving the site for aviation purposes in line with our adopted core strategy.”