Gavin Williamson warns Wolverhampton airport housing plans are 'just the start'
Plans for new homes on Wolverhampton’s airport could lead to the entire site becoming a giant housing estate, Gavin Williamson has warned.
MCR property group, which owns Halfpenny Green Airport, wants to build 112 homes on the site in Bobbington under controversial proposals.
Bosses say the scheme is needed to financially support the "struggling" airport, but it has been met with opposition from residents concerned about the loss of greenbelt land and strains on the road network.
Now South Staffordshire MP Gavin Williamson has waded into the argument. He said: "The concern is that this is the thin end of the wedge, and that the people who purchased the airport were never interested in running it as an airport.
"They seem far more interested in developing housing, and the sense is that this will be the first lot of many more hundreds of houses to come.
"With a poor road network in the area, there is a chance that the character of the community could be totally changed. I'm not convinced it is something that would be particularly welcomed."
Mr Williamson says he will be working with local residents groups and the parish council "to take the battle forward".
A planning application is likely to be submitted to South Staffordshire Council in the summer.
The homes have been earmarked for the south side of the airport, while MCR's planning manager, Tony Dodds, said he could not rule out future development of the site.
The firm said that money generated from the sale of the homes will be used to upgrade airport facilities – including its 1940s-era hangars – which would help keep the site operational.
The airport was built in 1941 and was initially used by the RAF. It currently serves as a base for flying schools, businesses, the military and as a refuelling stop for aircraft travelling across Britain.
A major concern about the new homes is their proximity to runways.
The South Staffordshire Local Plan Review said there are longer-term proposals to see "what benefits could accrue from a larger scale development at the airport".
"This could be considered as a further option which meets some of the housing requirements in the district," the report added.