Our city is standing at a crossroads
TODAY The Herald reveals a masterplan by Sutton Harbour Holdings to build on the site of Plymouth City Airport.
The plan we have published reveals how the runway would be dug up and replaced with houses, industrial units and even a school.
It is a plan many may have suspected for some time was in the development giant's mind – today it is out there for everyone to see.
Development and expansion of our city, both in terms of size and vision, should be welcomed - but not at any cost. Our ambition must be to be greater than we are, to be bigger and better, to be more prosperous and more dynamic. The day a bulldozer rips up the first piece of tarmac at the Roborough site will mark the crushing of those ambitions and the limiting of our potential as a thriving hub of cultural life and business opportunity.
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The Herald has already set out its case that, whether or not an airline operator can be found to reopen services in the short term, the airport site must be protected in readiness for a time when we will need it again. The site is far from perfect but it is the only one we have or will ever have. Therefore we should lift our gaze from the attraction of a short-term benefit in favour of a greater prize - a city filled with possibilities.
The Herald regards Sutton Harbour Holdings as a key Plymouth business -we should all want it to make money. It is perfectly reasonable for Sutton Harbour to have put forward these proposals - the recent discussions that have surrounded the future of the airport have certainly given a hint that development is a possibility, The site is worth considerably more for development than as an airport and the company can smell a healthy profit - there is absolutely no shame in that but there is a bigger interest at stake here.The interests of one business should not be mistaken for the interests of the business community in general.
And this is why we stand at a crossroads. The publication of these plans today starts a debate which will lead to a crucial decision affecting Plymouth's future - whether to constrain future generations by replacing our one and only airport with another housing estate.
It is a debate in which we will discover if our civic leaders - of all political persuasions - have the courage to take and support a decision to protect our potential for an air link. It is a decision from which they are unlikely to gain any immediate political advantage but one which, in years to come, they will be able to reflect upon with pride.