Plans for a major development programme at Durham Tees Valley Airport have been unveiled as the airport tries to secure its future.
Proposals for land on the north side of the airport, which have now been submitted to Darlington Council, include residential development and a local services centre for retail, commercial, leisure and community uses.
These plans are a key element in implementing the strategy, set out in the Airport Master Plan, for maximising the potential of the whole airport site.
Announcing the proposals, Robert Hough, chairman of Peel Airports, emphasised the importance of generating funds for the investment needed to support the airport to become a viable business, which can be sustained into the longer term.
The Peel Group acquired a majority shareholding in Durham Tees Valley Airport in 2003, and since that time has invested over £34million in operating and capital costs. However, if the airport’s future is to be secured, significant ongoing investment is required.
Mr Hough said: "In recent years, we have taken a range of measures aimed at achieving a better balance between costs and revenues but the reality is that in line with many of the UK’s regional airports, the business continues to make significant annual losses.
"That is why we have to develop all our assets, including land, to provide the resources for re-investment.
"100% of the revenues generated from the housing development will be reinvested in the airport business.
"The development plans have the potential to bring much needed security to the airport’s future for a minimum period of five years and potentially the next ten years.
"This would allow time for the region’s economy to recover, supporting the prospects for growth in services.
“We understand the importance of maintaining an airport for the Tees Valley and its importance to the area’s economic future.
"The plans we have put forward today can play an important part in supporting its ongoing operations and establishing the viable business base which will help it to move forward.”
Key elements in the outline planning application include a residential development of up to 350 houses and a local services centre including small scale retail space, financial and professional services, restaurants and other leisure facilities.
Community facilities are also proposed, which could include a health centre, dentist and nursery.
The application also includes a commitment to invest in improvements in local services, including education, affordable housing, highways and transport infrastructure.
The application emphasises the need for additional housing in the area - a report to councillors in November last year assessed that almost 10,000 new homes would be needed in the borough over the next 20 years.
These proposals, including high quality family and executive homes, can make a marked contribution.
At the same time, the provision of the other community, retail and leisure services will provide a boost to the local economy, including at least 100 jobs once the development becomes fully operational.