Paul Crysell, a planning inspector appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, in the case of Gatwick Aviation Museum versus Mole Valley District Council, has (unfortunately) rejected the museum's appeal.
This is very disappointing news.
You can read Paul Crysell's decision here
The decision is based on 'green belt' status. Yet in other cases, the same Mr Crysell appears to have urged for more, not less, commercial development (specifically new house build) on green belt land. The details are not entirely clear from these past cases, some as recent as 2011, but 'green belt' status has not hindered other large scale commercial development in 'green belt' areas, including several presided over recently by Paul Crysell. As evidence, here are sample links:
Council could be told to build more houses
Green belt to be sacrificed for homes
Parties unite over green belt plans
If I have misunderstood these past cases, I urge Mr Crysell to come forward and put us all straight.
Shall we conclude that the 'green belt issue', in regard to Gatwick Aviation Museum, has been a red herring from the beginning. Are there other (unknown) factors at play in the decisions of Mole Valley Council, and the government inspectorate, in this case?
Now that we are faced with this negative decision which puts the future of the heritage collection at risk, where next for Gatwick Aviation Museum?
The story is sad indeed. The efforts of volunteer citizens, over decades, to preserve the engineering prowess of this nation, are not being heard nor rewarded with recognition.
As we have argued elsewhere in this blog, local council (Mole Valley in this case) should be acting in support of the efforts of volunteers, especially so in this case given its national significance. There is not one instance, to my knowledge, where Mole Valley DC has support the museum, either in voice, moral support, other resources or direct finance. Quite the contrary, the council appear only to have blocked and taken advantage of each and every opportunity to ensure that the museum does not further develop.
Such 'blind spots' to a national treasure appear to be shared with the current conservative government. Our letters to raise the matter to the attention of the Secretary of State for Culture have gone unanswered. Contrast this neglect with the weasel words of the 'Big Society' of David Cameron.
Gatwich Aviation Museum, its activities, collections and restoration efforts and donations to our national heritage are an example of the 'Big Society' at work, yet over years the council have not found it in themselves to support the museum, in words or deeds.
This decision from the planning inspectorate for the final appeal perpetuates the same blind approach of applying rules, over common sense and respect. Such is the state of our nation that such treasures are abandoned.