Thursday, 5 February 2015

Rochester Airport cleared for take-off

A week after the Government agreed to provide £4.4m via the Local Growth Fund following a bid from the South East Local Enterprise Partnership, Medway Council has given the green light to plans for what it hopes will secure the long-term future of Rochester Airport.

The project – which comes with an ambitious 1,000 new local jobs – was given the go ahead by Medway Council’s planning committee, as part of its strategy to create skilled jobs, enhance tourism and restore the aviation hub to its former glory.

The scheme includes:
  • A paved runway to allow modern small aircraft to take off and climb to a higher altitude very quickly, meaning fewer residents will be affected by noise
  • A grass runway to allow the nationally-recognised Medway Aircraft Preservation Society (MAPS) to continue to use the site for heritage aircraft and open days
  • The decommissioning of a second grass runway, freeing up more than 10ha within the airport’s grounds for the development of high-tech business, science or technology
  • Three hangars, one to be occupied by the MAPS
  • New control tower
  • Hub building with office and administrative facilities for the airport and a café
  • The relocation of the airport’s two helipads
The decision, which was delayed at the previous meeting to give time for a site visit, should now enable work to get under way later this year. It follows consultation with nearby businesses, including BAE Systems, who were supportive, and local residents, which resulted in significant local opposition.

The changes are set to create a new aviation heritage attraction and encourage more people to visit Medway. While at the same time, protecting the site and securing major private sector investment.

After much consideration it was concluded the proposals achieve the right balance for local residents, businesses and airport users.

The site will not become a full-scale commercial passenger-carrying airport.

Deputy leader of Medway Council Cllr Alan Jarrett said: “We aim to safeguard aviation for business, heritage and leisure use in this well-connected location as well as releasing new land for jobs in Medway.

“Now these plans have been approved, we can look forward to work commencing later in the year.

“Public investment will be more than repaid from the development of high-tech business facilities, which will bring new jobs and increasing prosperity to Medway.”

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