Thousands sign petition to block Sheffield City Airport redevelopment

image captionThe petition will be handed to Sheffield City Council

Thousands of people have signed a petition calling for any future development of the Sheffield City Airport site to be put on hold.

More than 5,500 have backed calls to halt proposed building work until an independent public inquiry is held.

Current owner Sheffield Business Park plans to dig up the runway area to build offices, warehouses and retail units.

Business leaders described the city's lack of an airport as a "travesty".

The airport closed in 2008 after reporting losses of more than £1m.

Steel tycoon Andrew Cook said: "I think [Sheffield] needs its own airport rather like it needs its own railway station and its own public library - vital civic amenities for a city of this size.

"The fact that it's got one at the moment and it is disused and its runway is under threat of being dug up and destroyed is, quite frankly, a travesty."

The petition, which was launched in November 2012, will be handed to Sheffield City Council on Wednesday for discussion.

Mr Cook, who has offered to pay a "substantial" sum of money to buy the runway and surrounding facilities, said the international business community looked on Sheffield's lack of an airport with "universal incredulity".

He said: "The campaign to keep it open essentially boils down to buying the runway and the facilities from its current owners so it can form a basis for the future development of a proper airport."

Graham Sadler, Sheffield Business Park's managing director, said: "In 2001 alone, the airport lost over £1m and the fact is that in 2013 there remains no business case for re-opening it."

He said expansion plans could create up to 3,000 jobs and had the "ability to contribute to the economic growth of the city."

A spokesman for Sheffield City Council said it expected to receive the petition at Wednesday's council meeting.

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