The Future of Woodford Aerodrome

I recognise that this page does not sit comfortably with the rest of this commercial website. The monolithic text is difficult to read and ideally, it should have been broken up into a number of smaller pages and interspersed with images.

However, I was pressed for time in stating my case, since I do not have the resources of a company like Taylor Young, in charge of running the design workshops. The taking of personal photos was forbidden during the visit to the aerodrome, and I was concerned about copyright when using images from other sources.

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Anyone doubting the utility of the runway at Woodford aerodrome should watch the YouTube® video, produced by Simon Lowe, showing the arrival of an Antonov An-124, and its subsequent departure after disgorging the fuselage of a Nimrod. The Antonov An-124 can carry a payload larger than the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy, and is the world's second largest cargo aircraft.

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Woodford aerodrome has no ordinary runway; it is a precious resource. We can build houses anywhere!

The site was sold by BAE Systems to AVRO Heritage Ltd at the end of 2011. The latter has formed a venture jointly with Harrow Estates, part of the Redrow Group, to develop the site.

Details can be found here.

It is proposed to build between 920 and 950 new homes.

You can use the downloaded spreadsheet below to judge the financial impact on Council Tax for Stockport MBC, along with the one-off financial bounty from the government for each new home built.

I will update this page when I have studied the proposals in greater detail.

It has the hallmarks of a "posh ghetto" to me at first glance.

The spreadsheet, available for download below, has been extended to include an estimate of the profitability of the development.

Background

Glenfern Associates Ltd operates from a place near to the site of the BAE Systems Factory and Aerodrome in Woodford, formerly known as Avros.

Historically, this dates back to the 1920's. During the Second World War, Avros made an outstanding contribution to Britain's war effort by producing the Lancaster bomber. In the early days of the Cold War, the Vulcan bomber formed the backbone of Britain's V-bomber nuclear deterrent until it was superseded by the Royal Navy's fleet of Polaris nuclear submarines. Then, effort shifted to produce early versions of the Nimrod aircraft for maritime reconnaissance and electronic intelligence gathering; they served with the RAF from 1969 onwards until 2010. In later years a number of small civil aircraft were built.

The government conducted a UK Strategic Defence and Security Review in 2010 and decided to cancel the Nimrod MRA4 programme before any aircraft went into service. Regrettably, this decision led to the closure of Woodford Aerodrome early in 2011, since it had no future role to play in BAE Systems.

Consequently, the aerodrome is earmarked for redevelopment and regeneration, unless it can be sold as it stands.

The land owner, BAE Systems, is collaborating with local councils (Stockport Metropolitan Borough and Cheshire East) and other agencies to explore how the site might be redeveloped or regenerated.

Workshops

Following a number of local exhibitions in May 2011, a number of workshops have been held at Woodford Community Centre to involve members of the local community and other interested parties to explore what options are available and to seek imaginative solutions. The workshops were spread over 5 days, and began on Monday 13 June 2011. A member of Glenfern Associates took part, though not in an official capacity.

More information can be found from the official blog.

Thoughts and Reflections about the Workshops - a personal view by John A Cooke

I have some thoughts and reflections about the events of the past few days; they lead to some important questions.

This brings me to the questions, since everyone attending the party comes with his own agenda. We need to quantify what is happening if we can, so that we can scrutinise any proposals.

Questions Arising

  1. What is the value of the aerodrome as it stands now? My guess would be £90 million approximately.
  2. What is the scale of any development? e.g. How many dwellings, what types, plus details of any commercial/industrial properties.
  3. How much development is sufficient to regenerate the site?
  4. How much will it cost to remediate the site and provide essential services? e.g. Gas and electricity might be easy to supply since the site housed an aircraft factory, but what about the water and sewage needs for possibly hundreds of homes? Is there adequate capacity locally?
  5. Are there features on the site that relate to its earlier use as a military airfield that will be very costly to eradicate? If so, at what cost?
  6. How much development is too much? i.e. affecting the current village detrimentally.
  7. Does the existing community want such a development?
  8. What will be the value of the site after remediation and redevelopment? Are we talking of £250 million, £500 million or even more?
  9. How much will Stockport MBC and to a lesser extent, Cheshire East, derive from this development, firstly by way of one-off payments and then per annum?

A significant proportion of the difference must be spent here, rather than in the Stockport Borough as a whole. I am certainly not prepared to accept "crumbs from the top table", nor should anyone else!

Since Woodford was subsumed into Stockport Metropolitan Borough in 1974, the village has been subjected to 36 years of indifference and neglect by local government. It is hard to think of, or name any municipal footprint. If any member of Stockport Council or its officials imagines that a bit of tasteful landscaping will be sufficient, they should return to the Town Hall and think again, and not show their faces until they have a solution that fits.

In one of the workshops, the groups were encouraged to consider aesthetics by referring to a number of classical paintings with architectural and civic themes. I am thinking particularly of the painting in which a beautiful young woman was depicted sitting on a bed, looking out of a window. The lesson here is that we should be very careful when we get into bed with other parties, lest we exchange a mutually satisfying experience for a dose of gonorrhoea, or worse still, AIDS. Alternatively, will we be left holding the baby?

Concluding Thoughts

Downloads

Gathering together data from several sources, I have built a simple Excel spreadsheet that will enable us to estimate the likely annual income of Stockport MBC based upon Council Tax receipts, and a "one-off" bounty from the Government for building homes. It can be used to demonstrate how income can be affected by mixing and matching different types of property.

The scope of the spreadsheet has been extended to include a means of estimating the potential profitability of the development. It is intended as a starting point for discussion, rather than a definitive statement of fact.

Initially, it contains my best guesses of the number of dwellings in each council tax band and of the average selling price of each type of property. Use your own figures, which might be more accurate than mine, to investigate "what-if" scenarios regarding the development.

As you will see from your own investigations, the scale of the development requires that a large number of houses be built to make a profit and as such, it is likely to transform the existing village beyond recognition.

You are welcome to download it and experiment yourselves. Please bear in mind that it has been put together hurriedly, and be sure to let me know if you spot any glaring errors; they can soon be remedied.

Please note that it has the following limitations.

"Woodford Aerodrome redevelopment - likely income from Council Tax receipts by Stockport MBC and estimate of profitability"    Download Excel spreadsheet

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