Clear development framework agreed for Machrihanish Airbase

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Published Date: 

23 Apr 2015 - 10:39

The South Kintyre community can look forward to the site of the former MoD base at Machrihanish creating new employment opportunities after Argyll and Bute Council agreed a strategic development framework which will create the right conditions for economic growth.

The site, now owned by the Machrihanish Airbase Community Company (MACC) following a community buyout in 2012, gives local people a unique opportunity for investment in a variety of sectors from onshore renewables to manufacturing.

A masterplan describes and maps an overall development concept and is the key document for developers to refer to. This plan provides a clear and consistent framework for development, giving investors real certainty.

Argyll and Bute Council’s Head of Planning and Regulatory Services, Angus Gilmour, said: ‘’Masterplans are vital strategy documents which allow sites to be developed in a sensible and sustainable way which benefits both developers and communities. The MACC base is a site which is ripe for development, with this strategy setting basic guidelines for the future, identifying what land is suitable for what kind of development, what buildings should be removed to free up space for development and which ones can be re-used.

‘’The plan is not as strict as would normally be the case because of the unique nature of the site; it provides the necessary flexibility. The nature of any future development is uncertain at this stage so, rather than introducing a phased implementation approach, it sets the overall context.

‘’The focus of the council’s planning service is on making things happen, supporting sustainable economic growth and regeneration.  This is another demonstration of our open for business approach, working with developers to ensure a best fit for all.’’

Chairman of MACC Developments Ltd, Jim Martin said: ‘’MACC and our advisors are pleased to have finalised the masterplan for the site, as this will help shape future strategic development of the site and ensure that any proposals for growth are in harmony with local planning policies. It provides us with an excellent framework and we can now start to target potential new investors to the site.’’

The plan splits the huge MACC site into a number of zones to guide future developments. The active aviation area covers the main runway, a part of which is currently used by Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd. (HIAL) as a civilian airport, with regular flights to a number of destinations including Glasgow. The long runway is a major strength of the site and forms a key part of the bid to become the UK’s first spaceport.

Another zone to the north of the runway has been identified for future aviation purposes, being reserved to use as and when the airport operations expand. An area around the entrance via the old guardhouse has been earmarked for office, leisure, community and commercial use. There are a number of buildings in this zone, varying greatly in size and condition. As part of the plans some of these will be demolished to free the zone up for development, with the better structures being kept for future use.

The light industrial zone includes the current wind tower manufacturing plant and would be suitable for further renewable developments, with a second area identified to the south of the runway as a longer-term development prospect. Two areas are classified for business/storage purposes, one north and one south of the runway. These are areas of open land with a small number of existing buildings, one of which is the very large Gaydon Hanger, which is set to be used as an onshore aquaculture production facility.

Some retained spaces will be kept free of development to provide buffer zones between and around the industrial areas of the site.

For further information go to the planning portal on the council website with the reference number: 14/02307/MPLAN