The council agreed a 125-year lease in March. Credit: Doncaster Council

Timeline firmed up for Doncaster Sheffield Airport

As the deadline for tenders is reached, Doncaster’s cabinet will be asked to approve delegated powers for the appointment of an airport operator by year end.

Wednesday’s meeting of City of Doncaster Council’s cabinet will be asked to rubber-stamp a process where the director of corporate resources in consultation with Mayor Ros Jones will allocate preferred bidder status to a party, with a final contract then to be negotiated and concluded later this year.

The council is currently engaged in a public procurement process to identify an operator with the ability and experience to take the steps necessary to reopen the airport, return it to profitability and to take forward the South Yorkshire Airport City programme, a key element of the region’s economic growth plan.

A 125-year lease agreement was reached with landowner Peel in March, after more than a year of negotiations. Peel had closed the airport in November 2022, and had floated the idea of a future without aviation for the site before planning restrictions were brought in.

Coupled with the procurement exercise is the requirement for the Civil Aviation Authority to re-establish airspace following the airport’s closure.

Tenders are due to be returned today, 17 June 2024, following which an intense period of evaluation and clarification will take place to identify which submitted proposal provides the best deal for Doncaster and the potential operator that is best able to meet the challenge to reopen its airport.

The report also highlights that a planning restriction – an Article 4 Direction – which prevented any assets to be removed or dismantled from the airport site should be removed now that the council is the leaseholder. There are also other due diligence requirements that need to be met under law.

Mayor of Doncaster Ros Jones said: “This is another step forward in our journey to reopen our airport.

“The procurement process is complex and detailed, when we have completed the selection stage, we will proceed to giving an operator preferred bidder status, this will allow City of Doncaster Council and the operator to work together to conclude a contract for the reopening of the airport. This is all part of our carefully managed plan and the necessary processes involved.”

Being in a better position to influence key infrastructure is a key priority for South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority, Following the closure of DSA, South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard and the SYMCA invited Martin McKervey, the property lawyer who co-founded and chairs the Sheffield Property Association, to chair an independent inquiry to review the existing regulatory, legislative, policy and legal framework, by which local and regional public authorities can influence private infrastructure owners’ operational decisions.

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I understand that this is a lengthy process but I for one cannot wait for this ariport to reopen. It is in a perfect location to all major motorways and will be a big jobs boost for South Yorkshire. I hope the forcoming elections does not hamper the reopening good luck for later this year.

By Linda Watts

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