22 May 1997 Elmsett Aerodrome was made subject to two enforcement notices. The first
notice alleged that, without planning permission, the use of land materially changed (from
agriculture to mixed agriculture and flying activities), and ordered a stop to flying
activities. The second notice alleged that, without planning permission, intensification
of flying activities since October 1993 represented a material change of use, and ordered
a limit of one take-off and landing per day.
The appeal by the aerodrome against these notices was heard in July 2000. In
appealing against the enforcement notices, the onus was on the aerodrome operator to prove
|Any change of use
started more than 10 years before the date of the enforcement notice
|An increase in
flying activities does not represent a material change of use
Flying activities commenced at Elmsett in the
early 1970s, with the seeding of an airstrip and the basing there of an aircraft.
Runway lighting was installed in 1971 whilst the paying of rates from 1972 indicated that
the strip had been taken out of agricultural use. In 1973 fuel tanks were installed, and
in 1975 planning permission was granted for a building to be used as an agricultural
workshop and storage unit. The Inspector concluded that up until 1975, all such aviation
related facilities represented either a hobby incidental to residential use of the land,
or alternatively crop spraying incidental to agricultural use of the land. In other words,
prior to this date no material change in the use of the land occurred.
However, events during the period 1978-1986
convinced the Inspector that the aerodrome was established as a concern in its own right,
before 22 May 1987, the 10 year period prior to the enforcement notices:-
1978 - Aerodrome was insured
as such for the first time;
1979 - ICAO aerodrome code allocated;
1980 - Identified for the first time on the CAA map;
1980 - Air Operators Certificate granted, thus permitting public
1982 - Air/ground radio frequency acquired;
1985 - First entry in Pooleys Flight Guide;
1986 - Designated a Civil Private Aerodrome by the CAA.
In fact the Inspector dated the material change
of use to mixed agriculture and flying activities to the grant of the AOC in 1980. The
Inspector applied this conclusion not only to the taking off and landing of aircraft, but
also to the maintenance, repair, and assembly of aircraft, and the training of pilots.
Aircraft maintenance was actually given explicit approval in 1995 when planning permission
was granted for a building to be used for mixed agricultural and aircraft maintenance use.
Furthermore, the Inspector judged that, whilst the training of pilots would affect the
number of aircraft movements, such activity in itself had no land use planning
implications and could not be used to determine a change in the character of land usage.
During the 90s flying activities at the
aerodrome increased. This was particularly noticeable in 1997 when two clubs displaced by
the closure of Ipswich relocated to Elmsett. The second enforcement notice was based on
the allegation that such intensification represented a material change in land use, for
which planning permission had not been granted. The Inspector concluded that the increased
flying activity represented "more of the same" rather than a material change in
On the above evidence, the Inspector concluded
that the material change of land use commenced more than 10 years before the date the
first enforcement notice was issued, which was duly quashed, and also that the increased
flying activity did not represent a material change in use as alleged in the second
enforcement notice, which was also duly quashed.
Poplar Aviation, the aerodrome operator, has
made a unilateral obligation under section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act. Under
this arrangement two schemes have been submitted to the council, one to limit and record
aircraft movements, the other to set up a consultative committee to provide a forum for
discussion and settlement of problems in a spirit of co-operation. Aerodrome procedures,
including noise abatement procedures, are detailed on the Elmsett web site.