Vallance By Ways
Lowfield Heath Road


(By Peter Vallance)

1981 Orchard Farm. Run down, rat infested, stinking egg producing farm by intensive Battery Units approx. 150,000 birds in approx. 50,000 sq. ft (in 3 buildings) with various other sheds for packing. Dutch Barn, Stables, Nissan Huts. ALL buildings date from approximately. early 1950-60's. One Farm Cottage on site (which was removed from area of Gatwick Runway) and rebuilt.

P.G.V. Ltd purchased farm of approx. 40 acres, with the buildings and cottage with the intention of creating units for small businesses. It was about 2 years after 1981 with approx. 10-15 small firms in occupation that Mole Valley District Council served us with an enforcement notice to stop trading and return buildings etc. to farming as NO planning permission had been awarded to the Site.

At the public enquiry in 1985 the D.O.E. inspector granted temporary planning for 4 years expiring in July 1989 and also made all the buildings permanent. During 1987 we purchased aircraft Hawker Sea Hawk XE364 G-JETH as gate guardian (after Mole Valley Council refused planning permission for a Jet Provost) (See Appendix) The reasons for refusal were delegated powers to the Chief Planning Officer. I could not accept his reasons for refusal which were stupid. I then fell in love with the Red Sea Hawk and after extensive research found out the history of the aircraft which enthralled me, I also had many comments from the local people and colleges, students and young persons clubs to start a collection of aircraft. I then purchased another and another. We now have 16 very Historic and Classic Aircraft on Site, as of December 1996. We have also many aero engines.

After planning permission expired in 1989 we applied for planning permission to keep as an industrial site. We were refused, a further enquiry followed in 1992. The inspector granted permanent planning to keep the industrial site with certain conditions.

1. Removal of 3 Buildings units 4,7,8 - landscaping - parking schemes etc. which we appealed unsuccessfully.
2. That the Aircraft should be removed from the site, we challenged this also in High Court with costs against us.

We then applied for Planning permission on land, 15 acres, which we acquired during the 1985-1989 permission period, to Crawley Borough to create Gatwick Aviation Heritage and Education Centre also for temporary one year's permission to Crawley and Mole Valley which were both refused but has granted us one year for aircraft to be moved from this site - End of July 1994 before taking enforcement action against us in Court.
We are still here.....

Further developments have taken place over the past couple of years and the story will be updated soon!!!!
Our intentions are to Create

Gatwick Aviation Heritage and Education Centre.

Update January 2007

Over the past few years many attempts have been made to find an alternative site for the aircraft collection.
All sites that have been suitable have been refused planning permission by the relevant local authority.
This search for a suitable site continues...

In the meantime; significant changes have been made to the site in accordance with instructions from Mole Valley Council.
Aircraft have been moved to less visible locations, more landscaping has been carried out. More than 2,000 tress and shrubs have been planted as requested by the council. The type and number of trees was specified by the council and the requested number has actually been exceeded!

All of this was carried out whilst the process of deciding what the future expansion plans were for Gatwick was in going on. Even now this is not clear and the site could eventually be taken over as a part of the airport expansion.

The council seemed to have recognised the work carried out on the site, although they still have the same attitude, a modest
amount of common sense seems to pervade the latest statements.

See below

Update January 2010

This is an update to the political situation regarding planning permission at Gatwick aviation Museum. In late 2009 a number of changes occurred locally, perhaps for the most significant was the sale of Gatwick Airport to a business consortium. This sale was finalised in December 2009. It's becoming clear that part of the new owners’ vision for Gatwick is considerable expansion. There are many rumours about how this expansion will take place, it does seem likely that one of the first areas to be expanded is the cargo operation. Rumours suggest that this will be moved from its current location close to the North terminal to an area adjacent to the fields owned by PG Vallance Ltd. There are also suggestions that go beyond this and that an approach to buy PG Vallance Ltd land may well be forthcoming. In this situation it is possible that the village of Charlwood would be bordering on active aircraft operation areas, this would obviously increase noise pollution and significantly degrade the life of the village.

Also in late 2009 dialogue was reopened with Mole Valley Council and it appears that a new spirit of corporation now exists between the museum and the council. This new spirit of co-operation has manifested itself in that the council are now prepared to look at giving planning permission to the Museum for a new purpose-built structure to hold a number of the aircraft. As a result, the Museum is now actively drawing up plans for such a structure. The museum will be presenting its plans to the council for approval within the next few months. When asked about the plans Peter Vallance was very positive and stressed how much assistance he had received from the council. He took great pains to express his opinion that the council had been very helpful, open-minded and appeared to wish to resolve the situation that has existed on this site for nearly 25 years. Perhaps better still from the museum goers and operators position they seem to accept that the best place for the aircraft was its current location and that a purpose-built building to house some would be advantageous. It may be coincidental that building such a structure and locating the Museum where it is will of course also benefit the village in that it would provide a buffer zone between them and the active airport.

Whatever the reasoning, this movement represents a major positive action which, providing it succeeds, will benefit one of the countries unique collections of our aviation heritage. Just moving aircraft inside away from the effects of weather damage has a dramatic and instantaneous effect on their chances of long term survival.

May 2012

After MVDC refused to approve the latest planning application it went to appeal. The Inspecter agreed with the council's refusal but rejected four of the five objections raised by MVDC. The only point that he agreed with was that it was "inappropriate development in the green belt".

14th January 2013

Sadly on this day Peter Vallance died whilst undergoing an operation on his heart.

May 2013 - to date

The museum is now being run by a charitable trust set up by Peter Vallance to cover just these circumstances. He made provisioon for the museum to continue in his will and is it the intention of the trustees and the volunteers that they will carry out Peter's wihes to the best of their ability etc.