Runway improvement work will go ahead at Gloucestershire Airport, where the runway has deteriorated badly over the last few years.
A number of recommendations were agreed earlier this month at full council meetings at both Cheltenham Borough and Gloucester City Councils. The councils, which are joint shareholders of the airport, are said to have made available £7.5 million each to the £15 million total project.
Substantial runway improvement works are needed to deal with the deteriorating condition of the runway; improve drainage; install a new energy efficient LED lighting and to make sure the runway continues to meet Civil Aviation Authority guidelines. The surface of the main runway is beyond its design life – thought to be 25 years and the need for the re-surfacing has long featured in the company’s capital plans and has been highlighted in various commissioned specialist reports.
It was agreed that the councils will provide the airport with funds so that work on two runways can be carried out. Once the work is complete, the airport will transfer an asset – the Meteor business park – to the councils. This will secure annual rental income of £650,000 to be shared equally between the councils.
In August news broke of plans to develop a new business park at the airport, which will create space for up to 1,750 new jobs, could be created if plans submitted to Tewkesbury Borough Council get the go ahead. The Airport is submitting a planning application for an expansion of its employment sites.
The 35,000 sq m site, between the existing Anson and Meteor business parks, lies in an area of strategic economic growth and will become home to offices and industrial units. The rest of the site, which has been allocated for development in Tewkesbury Borough Council’s emerging Local Plan, will be landscaped.
The new 8.5-hectare park will sit on land to the north of the Gloucestershire Airport site and replace the northern end of the north/south runway.
With regard to the latest runway funding, Cllr Steve Jordan, Cheltenham Borough Council and Cllr Richard Cook, Gloucester City Council said in a joint statement: “The airport currently contributes around £52 million annually to the local economy and plays a key role in supporting the county’s development ambitions including the cyber development at Golden Valley and Gloucester’s digital campus, The Forum, as well as recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Karen Taylor, interim managing director of Gloucestershire Airport, said: “The significance of this funding for Gloucestershire Airport is three-fold. First and foremost it gives us the go-ahead to deliver runway and other critical capital improvements that will boost our status as a ‘gateway for growth’ for the many significant developments being brought forward across the region.
“It will also play a vital role in realising our ambition to identify and deliver projects embracing alternative clean energy supplies and green technologies that will help reduce our carbon footprint, while also underpinning our long-term commitment to attract and promote associated aviation related environmental research and development that’s so critical to the future of the aviation and creates opportunity for everyone operating from the airfield.”