Owner of former RAF Church Fenton airfield defends decision to start work on storage area for 11,400 vehicles without planning permission

The owner of Leeds East Airport has insisted work has stopped on an outdoor storage area for 11,400 vehicles on his land after Selby Council issued him with a temporary stop notice.

Residents living near the former RAF Church Fenton base near Tadcaster have become increasingly concerned about HGVs entering the site and depositing building materials over recent months.

Read More

Read More
Relief in Yorkshire village where HS2 viaduct would have run along edge of Domes...

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Chris Makin, the owner of the land, has applied to the council for permission to extend an outdoor storage area on 32 acres of land for vehicles and “other bulky items”, but the council has not yet considered his application.

Chris Makin has promised to invest in the airfield site and create jobs

He claimed he was being “chastised” by some locals for trying to invest in the area.

Mr Makin launched a private aviation company based at the airfield after his plans to create a commercial airport were rejected.

The council notice warns him to stop “unauthorised engineering works, importation of material and creation of hardstanding on the land” until December 27. Contravening a stop notice is an offence.

The former RAF Church Fenton is now Leeds East Airport

The authority was made aware of a number of HGVs depositing material on the site on September 17. The council was told work would stop in November, but it continued, according to the stop notice.

Despite a further assurance that work would stop later that month, complaints were received by the council towards the end of November.

Mr Makin told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that work on the site stopped “last week”.

He said he was trying to run a busy airport and that someone was “going round with a camera and taking pictures and making the council’s life a misery” by reporting him.

Mr Makin said in developing the Leeds East Airport he had created 150 jobs at a previously derelict site.

He acknowledged that he would need planning permission to complete the work.

He added: “I am going to bring 500 jobs and a million pounds in rates revenue for Selby Council, which will go to the community of Selby - road infrastructure and whatever else.

“That’s not bad news in my eyes, it’s good news.”

Mr Makin would not elaborate on what the jobs would be.

Selby Council’s deputy leader and Church Fenton ward councillor, Richard Musgrave, said: “The planning application to create a huge outdoor storage area at Leeds East Airport has caused a lot of concern for local residents, especially as the applicant seems to have made a significant start on the work before the planning application has been determined.

“That’s why I have thanked Selby Council officers for issuing a temporary stop notice to prevent further works taking place. The site will continue to be monitored.

“I’d urge any residents who wish to make comments about the planning application itself to do so as soon as possible.”

Historic England, the body tasked with heritage protection, has confirmed it is investigating allegations that JCB damage to RAF Church Fenton has potentially destroyed relics of the airfield, which was a key defence site in the Second World War.

A spokesperson said: “We have been made aware of an incident at the former Royal Air Force Church Fenton that took place a couple of weeks ago and are in the process of investigating the situation.

“As one of the most complete Battle of Britain defence airfields remaining in the UK, and a Scheduled Monument, we are keen to protect this important site.”