VILLAGERS are being alerted to two proposed developments at Fairoaks Airport in Chobham – one for extra filming facilities and the other to increase helicopter operations.

Chobham Society – which monitors and comments on local planning applications – has told members it is concerned that the two film studios proposed will be built outside the aerodrome’s accepted development area.

ADP Fairoaks Ltd, which owns most of the buildings on the site, has asked Surrey Heath Borough Council if an environmental impact assessment is needed for the studios. 

The proposal is to eventually build two demountable buildings with associated offices, a backlot for outdoor scenes and parking for 175 cars, to be used initially for five years. 

The development would be on a grassed area on the western side of Fairoaks which is now used mainly for the taxiing and parking of aircraft and helicopters.

A hangar at Fairoaks previously used for aircraft storage and maintenance is already used by a filming company called Itasca Studios.

The society says the request to the council for a “screening opinion” appears to be a precursor to a full planning application.

It fears the studios will extend the built area owned by ADP outside the 14-acre major developed site area into Green Belt land.

If Surrey Heath decides an environmental impact assessment is needed, the effects of the plan on the environment because of intentions, size and location will have to be taken into account.

In a separate proposal, Fairoaks Operations Ltd – which runs the runway and other aviation facilities – plans to build a hangar to accommodate four to six aircraft on behalf of Flexjet Helicopters. 

Flexjet, which has been using hangars at Fairoaks for some years, wants to use the airport as a base for its European operations. It currently provides Sikorsky S-76 helicopters for lease and charter.

The new hangar does not need planning permission but the borough council must be consulted on the details. 

It is intended that it will be built on the Chobham side of the airport, near the taxiing area that was built for the Surrey Police helicopter when it was based at Fairoaks.

Like the proposed studios, the hangar will be a building that can be assembled and disassembled in a few weeks. 

A new road be built across the taxiway and there will be parking for pilots, engineers and operations staff. New surface water drains will be installed and the development will also include an upgraded electricity supply sub-station.

Fairoaks Operations director Chris Hobbs says a base for European helicopter operations will bring much-needed investment and jobs to the airport.

He has told the council that work is expected to take eight to 12 weeks to complete.

Ownership of the Fairoaks complex is split between ADP Fairoaks Ltd and Albemarle Fairoaks Airport Ltd – which owns Fairoaks Operations Ltd.

Fairoaks as an aviation centre was threatened in 2016 by a proposal to build 1,500 houses on the land. This came from Fairoaks Garden Village Ltd (FGV), a company jointly set up by the two owners who hoped to gain government approval and financial support for the housing.

But FGV failed to be selected for the national garden village programme, while Longcross Garden Village, around three miles away, was approved and is going ahead.

Against massive opposition from residents, neighbouring Woking Borough Council and local MP Michael Gove, FGV dropped its initial proposal.

The company prepared a reduced plan for 1,000 homes which also failed to win community and local authority support. Its outline planning application to Surrey Heath was withdrawn in June 2022.