New site for Northrepps airstrip

RICHARD BATSON A busy north Norfolk airstrip is aiming to take off from its current site, and land three fields away. Northrepps aerodrome near Cromer buzzes to the sounds of pleasure fliers all year round, particularly in the summer months.

RICHARD BATSON

A busy north Norfolk airstrip is aiming to take off from its current site and land three fields away.

Northrepps aerodrome near Cromer buzzes to the sounds of pleasure fliers all year round, particularly in the summer months.

But the lease on its runway runs out at the end of August, so the search is on for a new home.

Operator Chris Gurney said they were poised to put in plans for land at Winspurs Farm, midway between Crossdale Street and Thorpe Market on the Cromer to North Walsham Road,.

"It is only about three fields away across the railway line. It would give us a bit more space and a longer airstrip. Plus it is well out of the way with no houses on the flight path."

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The current strip was close to Northrepps which was growing with new housing and immediately next to a road which was also getting busier, he said.

The proposed new site also had a phone line, which was required under new rules and which would be hugely expensive to provide at the current strip.

He had been talking to the planning officials and the Civil Aviation Authority about the move, and was expecting to have to provide an environmental impact study with the applications.

If the strip relocates it will be its third move. It began closer to Crossdale Street just outside Northrepps Park in the 1930s, started by Mr Gurney's late uncle Joe, a flying fan, before switching to Roughton Heath and moving to its current home in 1968.

The existing field, which has a tongue-in-cheek title of Northrepps International, has changed little - apart from adding a second "terminal" - with a family- sized caravan for a clubhouse and control tower instead of its former beach bathing hut.

Mr Gurney stressed the move had nothing to do with two recent crashes at the existing field - which accident reports put down to pilot error.

It is an unlicensed airfield, which hosts tourists flying in to visit the area in a variety of aircraft. This year they included pop singer Jay Kay from Jamiroquai who dropped in during July in his personalised silver and green helicopter with the index letters G-JKAY.

The field has also been used by crop spaying aircraft, and larger helicopters. It is also home to a radio controlled model aircraft club.

A newsletter on the airstrip's revamped website www.northreppsaerodrome.co.uk said a new lease offered on the existing field was "unworkable and not viable", hence the search for a new home, and a new name.