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Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Original letter to Mole Valley Council #1

This is verbatim text of a letter to Mole Valley Council. It has never been answered. Despite emails and calls to their offices they have not returned my inquiry or wished to enter into a voice call.

To the Chief Planning Officer 
Mole Valley District Council 
Pippbrook, Dorking 
Reference MO/2011/0190 

Dear Sir,

I am writing to support the application for new buildings on the Gatwick Aircraft Museum site. I visited this museum for the first time today, having not realized before it existed. It is a most wonderful museum, as a I understand it, built up over many years due to the dedication of the owner, friends, colleagues and engineers.

Before you take decisions that put the future of the site in jeopardy, I would ask you to consider the impact. Today, I witnessed many young people visiting the site. Like me they were amazed at the collection, both indoors and outdoors. This is unique. One boy simply was so excited he gasped when he entered. Other enthusiasts were there, all for the first time, and expressed dismay that the site is in danger. This is an important collection, with rare objects of all kinds and rare aircraft. Clearly, a lot of time, effort and finance has gone into making this wonderful legacy. It is especially important, now that certain aircraft are becoming rare, not just in UK, but the world.

It is my view that rather than refusing permissions to maintain this asset, the council should be actively working with the owner, to secure this future for everyone. I understand that a refusal has been given for new buildings to house the aircraft, which are currently outdoors and unprotected. It is essential that something is done, and be permitted to be done. I am sure you will agree.

Our aeronautical past is gradually being lost, and to have a local resident spend so many years, and so much finance, to build this for everyone, is something you should be applauding .... especially in the era of the "Big Society". Please, let's get the resources of council supporting this effort, not making it harder and harder going forward. Why the council would not wish to do this, I cannot imagine.

Clearly, as someone new to this museum, I don't know all history. From the Web, I have found that things have maybe got heated. But the history of this matter must be put to one side, taken completely out of our minds. Whatever the rights and wrongs, the only thing we must focus on is for the council to start to work with the owner to secure the museum and its contents. For, I am sure you will agree, the building of this resource was an act of passion and commitment by the team involved.

I understand that people are visiting regularly, including newcomers. I understand that the the opening times are strictly limited and having visited the site, I see no downside for the locale. I also understand that school parties are now visiting the site, and this is much needed. With the UK government once again placing renewed focus on engineering, inspiring our young people is essential.

Please give this your full consideration. Please share with letter with your colleagues. In amongst all the red tape which the owner has had to cope with, can we all think about the bigger picture and secure this asset for everyone's benefit going forward. Let's start developing the plan in cooperation between all parties. I hope I can speak to you about this in the near future. 


Howard Smith


  1. As the designer of the proposed Gatwick Aviation Museum its refreshing to realise political support. The central issue is one of safegaurding the openness of the Green Belt and related to previous Inspectors material evidence the principles of the proposals fully accord. The five conditions safeguarding the Green Belt have been technically and positively addressed without detriment, as they should be. The existing openness has been 100% maintained and considerably enhanced with innovative landscaping including a new woodland, park facilities and playing fields. Not only that the countryside openness has been made available for peoples leisure that in itself is a quality Green Belt Policy requirement! The proposals are significantly "sustainable" in every practical and social aspect. Despite sustainability sitting at the very heart of all planning matters these aspects have not been given their due respect and weight of inportance by the judging authority. As such negative action denys people of quality, informative, preservation, educational and leisure pursuits then PEOPLE should make their voices heard.....after all we are supposed to be a democratic country. Howard is obviously a man for the people and such energy and support will hopefully infect others after all the qualities on offer are a significant asset to all of us as people. As there is NO loss of countryside openness then to deny people access is a misscariage of fair and honest judgement and that is not fair to our collective Human Rights!

  2. Well done howard, excellent blog. Just to say thank you veru much from the engineering team, we really do appreciate your support. keep going! :-)

    Milt Roach (Gatwick Aviation engineering)