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Aviation Centre forced to close

Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre (CAHC) has announced it is set to close permanently, and its aircraft potentially scrapped, as its lease with Cornwall Council comes to an end.

In a post on Facebook, it said it will close its doors from 31st October 2022, adding: “It is with heavy hearts and dismay that we can confirm that we are set to close permanently following Cornwall Council’s decision to no longer support our museum and therefore evict us from our site without viable alternatives being offered.”

“CAHC was created by local people, is privately funded, pays commercial rents to Cornwall Council and is becoming nationally recognised as an aerospace site of excellence, yet Cornwall Council have failed to recognise the cultural & heritage value of our museum.”

The centre, currently based at Newquay Airport, has launched a petition to find a new location for its collection before March 2023, when it said the lease would expire.

Cornwall Council has reportedly committed to assist CAHC to relocate their operation, but CAHC said discussions on relocation proposals and funding sources have yet to take place.

On its petition page, CAHC warned that without an alternative location, its aircraft “will have to be scrapped because of the prohibitive cost of road transport”.

Its current collection includes 20 airframes and thousands of exhibits. CAHC said suitable alternative locations would need to be adjacent to Cornwall Airport, and that the cost of relocation would cost “hundreds of thousands”.

The CAHC was opened in Autumn 2015, taking aircraft from an earlier project for an aviation museum in Cornwall. It is now run by volunteers, including ex-service personnel who act as guides.

After the centre’s previous lease finished, it moved to use the land on a rolling basis. This followed negotiations to put a new lease in place, which reportedly broke down as the centre felt that the council was asking for too much money.

Richard Spencer-Breeze, director of the centre, told Cornwall Live in February that it had approached the council in 2019 about a new lease but that it “came back with an offer which was much higher than before and we wanted a more equitable and fair lease. We felt that it was not fair and didn’t take into account what we bring to Cornwall.”

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