Future of air shows hangs in the balance

PUBLISHED: 06:18 02 November 2006 | UPDATED: 09:58 31 May 2010

A bird’s eye view of Duxford Imperial War Museum’s grounds - Pic: DUXFORD IWM

A bird's eye view of Duxford Imperial War Museum's grounds - Pic: DUXFORD IWM

AIRSHOWS at Duxford Imperial War Museum could be under threat if permission is granted for a service station to be built on the nearby motorway. Land located near to the end of the museum s runway, across the M11 motorway, has been targeted by local devel

AIRSHOWS at Duxford Imperial War Museum could be under threat if permission is granted for a service station to be built on the nearby motorway.

Land located near to the end of the museum's runway, across the M11 motorway, has been targeted by local developers as a potential site for a service station.

The museum has spoken out against the proposal as one third of its admissions, roughly £1.7million, come from air shows, which would be a thing of the past if the service station is built.

A museum spokesman said: "The Imperial War Museum has grave concerns about the siting of a motorway service station in such proximity to its boundary and runway.

"We believe it will impact on the very nature of the historic site and the flying operations from it, both of which are key to the long-term sustainability of the Duxford enterprise."

South Cambridgeshire District Council carried out a review of land in the area as part of the formulation of their new Local Development Plan, which has since been submitted to central Government for evaluation.

During the process, Grosvenor Estates repeated that they had an interest in developing the site, an idea that they originally expressed around 10 years ago.

Planning officer at South Cambridgeshire District Council, Keith Miles, explained: "Grosvenor Estates have made proposals a number of times over the last decade for a service station on the motorway.

"They have been refused in the past but every time the situation is reviewed they reapply. We have received dozens of objections to the plans but the ultimate decision lies with the Government.

"We submitted six different plans to Government back in January, and the one that includes the service station proposal is the last one that will be looked at, so we don't expect to hear a decision until the end of next year."

The airstrip at Duxford Imperial War Museum has a rich history of use and the airshows held there still attract tens of thousands of visitors each year.

The runway was where the first Spitfire fighter plane entered service, back in 1938, and the aerodrome dates back to 1918.

If the proposed service station is given a green light, it may spell the end for the museum's prolific aeronautical history.

The museum spokesman said: "It is important to note that the museum is not opposed per se to development close to its boundaries.

"It is, however, opposed to things that affect the setting, operation and viability of the museum.

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