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Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen purchases airport in £40m deal

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Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen (Con) has agreed a deal to bring Durham Tees Valley Airport back into public ownership and “make this airport great again”.

Mr Houchen has signed an agreement in principle with Peel Airports, transferring its 89% shareholding in the airport along with 819 acres of land for £40m. The money is coming from the CA’s £513m investment fund.

The agreement achieves one of his cornerstone manifesto pledges, remaining subject to approval at an emergency meeting of the Tees Valley CA’s cabinet in January 2019.

The deal will also end the planned development of 350 homes with outline planning permission on the newly-purchased land.

Mr Houchen said: “This is a deal that will secure our airport’s long-term future, and delivers on the number one election pledge I made to the people of the Tees Valley.”

Of the deal’s total amount, £35m is being spent on acquiring Peel’s shareholding and 819 acres of land. A further £5m has been spent on buying land with planning permission for 350 homes.

“Because I am proposing to use money devolved to our area from central government, there will be zero impact on people’s council tax bills, zero impact on local authorities, zero impact on public services, and zero impact on local businesses,” said Mr Houchen

“The people of the Tees Valley will not have to pay a penny extra to finance this acquisition. Our valued public services will not be affected by this deal, our councils will be completely insulated and protected, and our other priorities will still be delivered on.”

Referencing Brexit, Mr Houchen said Tees Valley “won’t just be competing with Newcastle, Leeds or Birmingham – our success depends on our ability to work, trade and collaborate with old friends and new allies around the world.

He added: “Taking back control of our airport presents a once in a generation opportunity for the Tees Valley to find its voice again.”

Mr Houchen said he soon hoped to announce a new airport operator. A 10-year business plan for the airport will also be published.

“The ultimate deal will be public, voted on and will require the support of our five local authority leaders,” said Mr Houchen.

In May, the mayor said the CA had signed a non-disclosure agreement an established airport operator with regards the future management of the airport.

Passenger numbers at the airport have fallen dramatically since local councils sold 75% of their stake in 2002.

Robert Hough, chair of Peel Airports, said until a deal is completed the airport would “continue to operate as usual, with no impact on the travel plans of our passengers.”

 

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