National Centre Update 20/5/2016

National Centre Update 20/5/2016

BMFA National Flying Site and Visitor Centre – 20th May 2016

Following the positive vote of the EGM in July 2015 and as reported at the AGM in November, work has continued on the National Centre project.

Previous activity of the study identified a number of issues with a land purchase, both in terms of the significant capital expenditure requirement and also the process and timings for planning permission against contract deadlines.

These factors prompted the study team to further explore alternative options, and in particular the potential to lease appropriate facilities and land.

Leasing presents a number of potential benefits and represents a low risk and lower cost route to establishing a National Centre.

We reported at the AGM in November, there had been some developments and we had identified a significant landowner who is supportive of the concept of a National Centre within their estate (the contact came through work in the earlier phases of the study)

Following this, there has been considerable further activity in respect of the location identified, both in terms of a possible long term lease agreement and also in respect of the overall business case for the project.

The location

The location is on the borders of Leicestershire and Lincolnshire, between the towns of Grantham and Melton Mowbray and approximately 5 miles from the A1.

The site comprises 43 acres of mostly flat, well drained land predominately under grass with existing buildings and structures on the southern boundary. The site lends itself very well to a phased development of facilities with the potential to realise a significant level of flying activity in the first phase of development.

Given the existing infrastructure on site it is intended that a minimal presence is established in the first year providing a base to progress with development.

A phased development approach over 5 years has been designed to deliver model flying with basic supporting facilities at a very early stage, and to provide a structured programme of ongoing development. It is important to note that the project plan does not make provision to re-locate office services and it is envisaged that a presence will be maintained at Chacksfield House for the foreseeable future.

Current position

Early stage discussions have taken place with the landowner that along with a flying demonstration and test day staged at the site resulted in a positive response and willingness to proceed further, in addition there has been positive engagement with adjoining landowners.

A “gating factors” grid has also been constructed which identifies the key factors to be met in order to proceed further.

An outline presentation of the proposed project plan, covering the lease concept and the specifics of the location under discussion was presented to the BMFA Executive Committee in April and following a positive response, to the Full Council Meeting of 14th May 2016.

Having reviewed the information provided, Full Council were asked to vote on whether to proceed further with the project along the lines described subject to all gating factors being successfully addressed.

This resulted in an almost unanimous vote in favour (with just one abstention) to proceed with the lease negotiations and work towards the appropriate permissions.

Next steps

A key element of the project is obtaining planning permission and the next step is to engage formally with local authorities and submit a ‘change of use’ application for both the model flying and the visitor centre elements of the project. Early informal indications are positive. This action of course represents a “critical” gating factor to proceed further.

Additional updates will be provided to reflect further progress and developments with this project.

Manny Williamson

Development Officer

May 20th 2016