London Mayor Boris Johnson really does not like Heathrow. In the past he has described plans for expansion at the west London airport as “completely crackers”, and “totally wrong for the country”.
This was followed by the revelation that the Mayor wants to axe the country’s largest airport entirely, seeking to replace it with an “education quarter” that would employ up to 100,000 people.
Now, the scheme has evolved to encompass a new “Heathrow City” proposal, with plans for homes, jobs, retail outlets, manufacturing facilities, and office developments.
According to the Mayor’s office, the site could provide up to 90,000 jobs, 190,000 new homes and could generate £7.5bn a year for London and the UK.
But could the Mayor’s Sim City vision become reality?
The Mayor’s Office and TfL have taken the first serious steps in realising the dream and have appointed three leading architects to draw up plans for a full redevelopment of Heathrow.
According to a statement from the Mayor’s Office, “Transport for London has asked the architects to provide designs that cover several options for redevelopment of a site that could potentially support 90,000 new jobs and provide homes for 190,000 people.”
Of course, the plans all hinge on a full relocation of London’s busiest airport to a completely new location, east of London. This scheme has received a largely unenthusiastic response and was not shortlisted by the airports commission as a viable option for dealing with London’s airport capacity problem.
Instead, expansions of Heathrow and/or Gatwick were shortlisted in December as more viable options.
Johnson responded furiously, saying: “Why on earth entrench a huge planning error and expand Heathrow and consign future generations to misery when we could go for the right option?
“As soon as you’ve completed a third runway, which wouldn’t be until 2030 at the very earliest, there will be insatiable demands for a fourth runway.”
Labour has said that the Mayor’s vision would “wreck west London’s economy”, while opposition groups warned of the environmental impact a new hub airport in the Thames Estuary may have.
The three firms appointed to look at redeveloping the Heathrow siteS are: HawkinsBrown, Rick Mather Architects and Maccreanor Lavington.
The Mayor of London’s chief advisor on aviation Daniel Moylan said: “The relocation of Heathrow Airport is a once in a lifetime opportunity to provide a world class aviation environment to the east of London while creating thousands of new homes and jobs in west London.
“We have now appointed innovative creative practices and look forward to them bringing forward designs that will very clearly demonstrate the quite incredible opportunities in front of us.”