Oakley Airfield is set to have a new lease of life as a state-of-the-art testing facility for driverless and automated car technology thanks to Leicestershire based, Andrew Granger & Co’s planning and development team.
The site, located between the villages of Oakley and Worminghall near Aylesbury was closed in 1947, with the land returning to agricultural use in the 1950’s. Following Buckinghamshire Council’s approval of the application, work on the CAVWAY project has now started and is due to be complete by the end of 2021.
Andrew Granger & Co were very excited to be a part of such a unique project. The site is one of only six world-leading ‘testbeds’ across the UK – supported in part by a proportion of £100m of funding from the UK Government with the intention of making the UK a centre of excellence for CAV testing.
The CAVWAY project was awarded to a consortium of two companies – Applus IDIADA and Prova Developments Ltd. IDIADA has over 30 years' experience within the field of automotive engineering and in the management of this type of facility in Spain and China, whereas Prova staff also have extensive experience of operating an automotive proving ground in the UK.
Andrew Granger & Co were therefore delighted to be chosen as the preferred planning consultants on this project. Having worked with the clients for a year – alongside external consultants including the University of Leicester regarding archaeological matters, Brindle and Green regarding ecological and landscape matters, and M-EC Engineering regarding drainage and noise – the planning team were very happy to have consent granted for the application.
Chris Green, planner for Andrew Granger & Co who led the project, explains: “It was clear from the outset that this was going to be an exciting opportunity, and it has been a pleasure to work with the clients in obtaining consent for this top-class facility.
“Having worked closely with the Local Authority’s Economic Development department, as well as engaging with both of the local Parish Councils, it was crucial that we balanced all the material planning considerations and mitigated any impacts from the proposals in a prompt and effective manner.
“As a result, the consented project will now deliver significant economic benefits in line with Central Government priorities and the aims of the National Industrial Strategy, in addition to a host of benefits for the local community – ranging from employment opportunities to enhanced biodiversity and extended public bridleways around the site.”
David Price, Innovation and Technology specialist at Applus IDIADA and technical lead for the CAVWAY project, adds: “The size of this project, along with the kind of issues that we have encountered on such a diverse site, have meant that the process has not been without it’s difficulties. Chris Green has been a great help in assisting us to get through this last 12 months and the challenges that we have faced, including some significant ecological matters that needed addressing.
“With Andrew Granger & Co’s help, we’ve now overcome the bulk of the planning and preliminary concerns and we look forward to commencing full construction and the exciting project ahead.”
The site will be used by a variety of automotive and technology companies to test and verify their new ideas, such as to improve the future of mobility or help with an ageing society as well as promoting clean growth through the reduction of energy consumption. The site may also be used to certify vehicles against new and emerging safety standards, and in particular related to the Grand Challenges described in the Government's Industrial Strategy policy paper.
You can find out more about the CAVWAY project at www.cavway.co.uk.
Andrew Granger & Co’s planning and development team assist a range of clients across the UK offering a whole host of planning and development services, and you can find out more here: https://www.andrewgranger.co.uk/pages/planning-and-development2.