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Vintage Aviation Centre likely to land

The Hood Aerodrome open day in 2018. PHOTO/FILE

Grace Prior

Hope for Masterton’s Vintage Aviation Centre has been restored as Masterton District Council agreed to extend its memorandum of agreement with the trust to February next year.

In September 2019, the council approved an agreement with the trust which set out the commitments that Masterton District Council [MDC] had in holding an exclusive option for the trust to lease up to [but not necessarily all of] four hectares purchased in 2016.

The agreement was restored at last Wednesday’s full council meeting until February 2021.

Council staff would work with the trust to ensure pragmatic advice and solutions are provided for.

The Vintage Aviation Centre proposal was to develop a world-class visitor attraction focused on the vintage aviation assets of The Vintage Aviator Ltd based at Hood Aerodrome, Masterton.

The Wairarapa Vintage Aviation Hub Community Trust’s application to the Provincial Growth Fund grant was withdrawn in mid-June.

“They’ve signalled that they’re going to work really hard from the moment the government moves in to secure that funding,” MDC chief executive Kath Ross said.

Trust chairman Bob Francis said, “we are now looking to reactivate discussions for potential support”.

Although the project will not be finished by the projected January 2021, as Francis had hoped in 2018, they are “not giving up on the project”.

Councillor Brent Gare said the transparency through this process on what was effectively a community asset needed to be made extremely clear.

“Barring obviously some commercial realities, the information that can be made public needs to be made public,” he said.

“I believe strongly that as a council we need to be doing all we can to support the aviation centre which we obviously are.

“At the moment, when you look at it, Masterton is looked at mainly as a service centre.”

Councillor Gary Caffell said the project would “give us a real opportunity to get tourism into Masterton”.

MDC had previously received $10 million in funding from the Provincial Growth Fund for the Hood Aerodrome infrastructure project.

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