Heathrow expansion 'could require 70,800 new homes'

Proposals to build an additional runway at Heathrow Airport could require up to 70,800 homes to be delivered locally to support the additional jobs created by the development, a report has found.

Heathrow: airport expansion would require new homes to support growth
Heathrow: airport expansion would require new homes to support growth

The government’s Airports Commission has revealed the findings of its independent assessment of the three shortlisted options for increasing aviation capacity in the UK.

One option for consideration is a second runway at Gatwick Airport, which the Airport Commission said could require up to 18,400 homes to be delivered across 14 local authorities.

It said this would likely be deliverable over the period to 2030, with "land availability unlikely to be affected by green belt issues".

However, the report said that proposals to expand Heathrow’s northern runway or to build a new full length runway at the airport, would require significantly more homes to support the resulting employment benefits.

It said the Northern Runway proposal would require up to 60,600 new homes, while the creating the new North West Runway would require up to 70,800 new homes.

In both instances the Airports Commission acknowledged that these upper limits may present challenges for local authorities locally, outlining that "many… already struggle to meet housing targets".

But it said that this would be mitigated by the timescales for delivery and the fact the requirement is spread over 14 local authorities.

Sir Howard Davies, chairman of the Airports Commission, said the group had "not yet taken a view on which proposal strikes the most effective balance between the assessment criteria".

He said: "It is important first that we provide an opportunity for this evidence to be examined, challenged and improved. This consultation gives everyone with an interest in the issue of airport expansion that opportunity.

"Responses to this consultation will be a valuable addition to our evidence base and will directly inform our recommendation to the government when we publish our final report in the summer of 2015."

Kim Cohen, planning partner at Barton Willmore, said the delivery of the number of homes required highlighted the need for strategic planning by local authorities.

She added: "Clearly one of the characteristics of many of the local authorities that surround both Heathrow and Gatwick is green belt. So it clearly throws up a need for a comprehensive, strategic review of the green belt and some creative ways of dealing with that.

"[You also need to think about] national and regional infrastructure planning to ensure that the economic benefits are maximised; making sure that infrastructure is properly considered; and that the housing can be delivered."

The consultation document can be read here.

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