A MAJOR airfield is at threat of closure as plans for 3,000 homes on surrounding land have been included in the draft local plan. 

The land at Popham Airfield has been earmarked for development in the latest draft of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council's local plan.

Within the plan, 1,400 homes are proposed for the site, which could be part of the 3,000-home Popham Garden Village. 

A village centre is also proposed to be provided, with a range of facilities and services to ensure that the community’s day-to-day needs can be met.

An employment area offering a range of business opportunities is also expected play a key role in encouraging the Garden Village, to be as self-contained and sustainable as possible.

The Dever Society, opponents of a new town for 30 years, is urging people to object to Popham Airfield being part of the local plan, by the deadline of March 4.

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Basingstoke Gazette: Aerial view of Popham AirfieldAerial view of Popham Airfield (Image: Andy Amor)

Tessa Robertson, chair of The Dever Society, said: “We are very concerned that Basingstoke council is promoting a so-called ‘garden village’ of 3,000 homes on Popham Airfield without seeking the views of the residents in Winchester district just over the boundary who live closest and would be impacted the most.

"Basingstoke’s plans for massive development in the southwest of the borough includes not just Popham but 7,500 houses at ‘Southern Manydown’ just to the east of North Waltham. The urban sprawl this would cause not only means the loss of thousands of acres of greenfields, but threatens the important ‘green gap’ between Winchester and Basingstoke.

"The Popham plan also involves dismantling a thriving community associated with the airfield, destroying both livelihoods and a locally supported amenity. Basingstoke council needs to go back to the drawing board.”

Popham Airfield has existed for nearly 50 years and is an active and popular grass airfield. It is home to around 150 light aircraft, some of them being of vintage, Second World War and heritage types, with membership of clubs at the airfield currently at approximately 550 members.

The airfield is one of the best and busiest general aviation grass airfields in Hampshire and southern England. Last year just more than 18,000 movements were recorded, this being the highest number since 1992.

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The airfield frequently hosts many aviation-themed meetings, monthly fly-ins and larger aviation-related events.

Councillor for Oakley and The Candovers, Cllr Diane Taylor, said: "The proposal to build housing on Popham Airfield comes as part of a Local Plan update which is very heavily weighted towards the west of Basingstoke, specifically the South West. 

"The development of the airfield would have a huge detrimental effect on the villages close by – North Waltham, Steventon and Popham – and would open up this beautiful area of countryside to further development in the future. 

"The airfield is a well-used and much-loved feature of this Borough.  Various flying associations rely on it and many events are held there annually.  It is an important economic asset and leisure facility that would be a great loss to Basingstoke."

Situated at the airfield is a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) approved aircraft maintenance facility, employing skilled aircraft engineers, along with CAA approved microlight and gyrocopter flying/training schools, an accredited drone flying/training facility, an aero modelling club and an accredited caravan and motorhome site.

The airfield is also home to a café, which is open daily to visitors of the airfield, both aviators and the general public.

It has played host to numerous charity days and events over the years, as well as classic car, vehicle and aircraft shows held annually for the benefit of the local area.

The airfield occasionally supports flights by the military, air ambulance, police and search and rescue.

The local plan is up for consultation until Monday, March 4. More information on the local plan can be found at basingstoke.gov.uk/lpu.