Call for airport building to be a ‘community asset’

The Art Deco terminal building, seen from the air
The Art Deco terminal building, seen from the air

LIBERAL Democrats are calling for Shoreham Airport’s main building to be listed as a community asset, following revelations from pilots.

David Skertchly, vice-chairman of Shoreham Airport Operators and Tenants Association, spoke out at Shoreham Society’s meeting last Friday about pilots’ fears for the future of the airfield.

Jemima Bland, Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for East Worthing and Shoreham, who was at the meeting, has now said the iconic Art Deco terminal building should be made a community asset to protect its future.

“This would be a first step in providing local people with more say over what ultimately happens to this wonderful building, which has been allowed to decay,” she added.

A community rights law was passed by the coalition Government, giving local authorities and some voluntary organisations the power to ask for land and buildings that further the social well-being or interests of communities to be registered as community assets.

Ms Bland said if registration was successful, Adur District Council would have to include the building on a list of assets of community value for at least five years.

Shoreham Airport is current leased to property investment partnership Albemarle Shoreham Airport and the freehold of the land is owned by Brighton and Hove City Council and Worthing Borough Council.

Ms Bland’s move came just days after she spoke at the packed meeting of the Shoreham Society, which heard about mounting problems at Shoreham Airport.

She said: “The meeting demonstrated there is widespread concern in Shoreham and the surrounding area about the future of the airport and especially the aerodrome.

“Until now, local people have had little influence over what happens to the aerodrome building, even though it is one of the most visible and famous buildings in the district.

“If the aerodrome were listed, as I suggest, it would then be possible to explore other options under the community rights law, such as community asset transfer or to mount a right to bid if it looked as though the aerodrome’s freehold was going to be sold on the open market.”