A BELOVED flying club has had its lease terminated after a disagreement with its new landlord.

Bicester Gliding Club, which has operated at the town's former RAF base since 2004, is now set to be homeless unless and until it can find a new location.

The news comes after a building row with the new owners of the site, Bicester Motion – which now plans to run its own aerodrome there.

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The company, previously called Bicester Heritage, bought the former RAF Bicester site – an active airfield since 1927 – in 2013, including the land which Bicester Gliding Club uses.

The club had operated the airfield and taught young people how to fly gliders and powered planes since 2004.

Oxford Mail:

But it has now confirmed that it will not take up an offer to continue activities at the site, as it does not believe its gliding operations fit with Bicester Motion’s vision for the airfield’s future.

In a statement it said: “Bicester Motion have terminated our lease with effect from 30 June 2020. It is, therefore, with great regret, that we are having to cease operations at Bicester Airfield.

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“Currently, we are attempting to make arrangements for our departure. Due to the Covid-19 crisis, we are understandably seeking some pragmatism and flexibility from Bicester Motion and therefore do not wish to compromise these negotiations by making further public statements at this time.”

As part of Bicester Motion’s plan to create an automotive resort, it has formed The Bicester Aerodrome Company to operate the airfield from July 1, 2020.

Oxford Mail:

The new company will oversee aviation operations, aiming to encourage a more diverse aviation culture and activity.

With more than 20 historic aircraft already at the site and committed to the new aviation season, the plan is to improve facilities and activity in order to safeguard flying as part of the masterplan.

Bicester Motion says the gliding group has announced to its members that it is in active discussions with local gliding clubs and hopes to keep running locally.

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Dan Geoghegan, chief executive of Bicester Motion, said: “We have welcomed the knowledge and experience of Bicester Gliding Club and have thanked them for this. We hope that they will accept our invitation to fly in to visit the aerodrome in the future.

“Meanwhile we wish them every success with their future plans and the opportunities it will bring the sport.”

Oxford Mail:

Under the new lease proposed by Bicester Motion in February, it wanted to end the club’s ‘exclusive use’ of the airfield and become the ‘aviation operator’ at the site, allowing the club to share the airfield and facilities alongside other activities.

However club chairman Peter Harvey said this would not be viable, and said at the time that was hoping to come to an agreement with Bicester Motion that would work for both parties.

The gliding group expressed its concerns last year, particularly about the proposed ‘test track’ on the airfield.

The airfield has a long history of flight which is hoped can be expanded upon with the launch of The Bicester Aerodrome Company.

Mr Geoghegan added: “We look forward to building on the rich history of the aerodrome and giving it the opportunity for economic viability whilst being a central component of our plan for Bicester Motion to create a tourism destination that celebrates the innovation, culture and technology surrounding mobility.”