Fate of Doncaster Sheffield Airport is now looking much brighter following council cabinet meeting

Owing to welcome developments, the fate of Doncaster Sheffield Airport (DSA) is now looking much brighter and the local Chamber of Commerce is optimistic about what this could mean going forward.
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It has been over a year since the airport’s future was first called into question and in the intervening months, there has been a great deal of public debate and concerted work behind-the-scenes to find a solution. With this site having served local communities for upwards of two decades, it was hardly surprising that residents would feel so deeply invested in its survival and that they would rally behind the campaign to save it.

However, there was equally a lot of support from the private sector on this issue as well, with businesses recognising that the airport has a much wider strategic value for the entire region. Indeed, an economic impact report found that, if it were to reopen, DSA has the potential to generate around £1.56bn in net economic benefits (over the course of three decades), and thousands of jobs, through its catalytic effect on development sites and related industry activity.

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It was for these reasons that Doncaster Chamber joined the chorus of voices lobbying for DSA to be reopened and, from day 1, has urged its strategic partners to work with Peel and the business community in order to find solutions that will protect and enhance this economic asset.

The future is looking brighter.The future is looking brighter.
The future is looking brighter.

Now, it appears that there is finally some light at the end of the tunnel as, earlier today, the City of Doncaster Council Cabinet was apprised of the latest developments in this ongoing situation. At an extraordinary meeting, it was disclosed that real headway has been made in the negations with the airport’s current owners, Peel Group, and that the council is on the cusp of agreeing on a 100-year lease for the site. Meanwhile, they are also currently looking for a private sector partner who can operate the airport, in the event that it does get back up and running (which could feasibly be within the next two years).

Reacting to this positive news, Dan Fell, Chief Exec of Doncaster Chamber, said: “The fight to save DSA has been fought valiantly by various partners and it’s heartening to see that things might at long last be looking up. The fact that Peel Group is open to agreeing to lease their site is a huge step forward in these negotiations and is reason enough alone for optimism. For all the political noise associated with this campaign, it is commercial pragmatism that will lead to solutions and it is looking as though there is a real win-win to be had for all parties.“It’s no secret that this ordeal has taken its toll on the region. When a review into the airport’s viability was first announced back in June 2022, it caused a great deal of consternation as everybody tried to wrestle with the implications of losing such an important strategic asset. At the time, while its fate still hung in the balance, DSA’s worth to the local economy was estimated to be around £110 million per annum. Yet if it were supported in reopening then, within the first three decades of operating, the net economic benefits could potentially be up to £1.5 billion.

“Surrendering the airport altogether therefore felt like an unthinkable prospect and I am glad to see that we are now moving towards a more desirable outcome. One that is mutually beneficial for both Peel Group and for the region at large.

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“On that note, I would like to commend Peel for doing the right thing here and for still returning to the negotiating table month after month, even in the face of some, quite frankly, difficult conversations. South Yorkshire has enjoyed a decades long relationship with this company and — while it has evidently not always been the plainest sailing — in the main it has been a fruitful one. Based on today’s announcement, I hope that we will continue to have strong ties with this major industry player, particularly when it comes to fulfilling the enormous opportunities afforded to the region by the GatewayEast site.

“Finally, I would also like to applaud our partners in the local authority, public sector and political arena. While there have been many different voices involved in this conversation throughout — and they certainly have all played their part, including many hard working people away from the public eye — it is only through the tenacity and sheer willpower of certain individuals going above & beyond that we have been able to make it this far.

“All in all, the news from today’s council meeting is very promising and could signal a much-needed change in Doncaster’s fortunes. The past 12 months have been incredibly challenging but, if this is any indication, I truly believe that we can turn things around and look forward to a brighter, more prosperous future.”