Norwich Airport has moved a step closer to becoming privately-owned for the first time - after the city council agreed to sell its shares in the transport hub.

Eastern Daily Press: Alan Waters, leader of Norwich City Council. Pic: Jeff Taylor.Alan Waters, leader of Norwich City Council. Pic: Jeff Taylor. (Image: Archant)

Having first been set up by Norwich City Council alongside the county council in the late 1960s, the two local authorities have kept stakes in the airport ever since.

However, in February, both were approached by airport owner Regional and City Airports with an offer to buy up the 19.9pc stake the pair hold between them.

On Wednesday evening, the deal moved a significant step closer to being complete, with Norwich City Council's cabinet agreeing to sell its shares.

Now, with City Hall having agreed to the proposal, the deal hinges on Norfolk County Council also giving the green light.

However, at this stage the amount each authority will make from the stage remains to be seen, with the finances of the deal being kept confidential.

Alan Waters, leader of Norwich City Council, said the council's shares in the airport were currently not returning any dividends and were unlikely to do so in the future, so supported the proposal.

Mr Waters added that selling the council's share would not reduce the influence it could have on future developments of the site.

He said: "One key point I would make is that Norwich City Council is the planning authority for the airport's land and its new masterplan will be required to come through our planning committee.

"The agreement also comes with a guarantee that the airport should not be used for any alternative purpose with significant money coming to the council if it is."

This agreement is a continuation of a clause set in 2004 - when the two councils agreed to sell their combined 80.1pc shares - and expires in March 2084.

As it stands, Norwich City Council owns a 6pc share in the airport, the county council 9pc and 4.9pc retained by Legislator 1656 Ltd - an arms-length company jointly owned by the two councils.

As part of the deal there would also be a legally binding agreement meaning that for the next 15 years bi-annual meetings would be held between airport and council bosses "to exchange information".