Windsor councillor concerned about unknown extent of local additional housing demand from Heathrow runway
Messages to MPs before airport expansion ruling
By Cllr Malcolm Beer (Windsor councillor)
Tuesday 16 August 2016
It has recently been acknowledged the latest A380 super jumbo departure flights are noisier and lower because they climb slowly to reduce engine wear and fuel usage.
Even worse is no other councils are known to have opposed the Airports Commission’s confused dismissal of the immense housing and infrastructure needs of the hugely increased workforce to handle far larger aircraft and potentially twice as many passengers and the ever increasing business activity.
This is because none have enough planning officers to address the problems, some think it would make their area more prosperous, and some even seem to believe the airport’s ridiculous scare story it would have to close if it could not expand.
The Commission first said up to 70,800 more houses and 24 new schools would be needed for the additional employees with 5,000 more houses in each of 14 council areas (see link Page 44 ) including RBWM, but finally offered the ridiculous conclusion that no extra houses would be needed as 100,000 unemployed in West London could fill the additional jobs. (see link Page 145). They would presumably include flying and maintaining complex aircraft and running the international businesses on which the economic case is based.
Heathrow’s promise of providing 10,000 apprenticeships and reducing road congestion with 60% of its staff and passengers using public transport is just as ridiculous as it only completed 93 apprenticeships last year and has never reached a 40% targeted use of public transport of a far smaller number of people.
After Cllr Derek Wilson, the RBWM lead member for planning, agreed at a council meeting to my suggestion he and I shared our knowledge of aviation and planning matters to write a letter to the minister for housing and planning, I prepared a detailed draft which Cllr Wilson edited and emailed to the minister, the previous prime minister and a few others. As no officers were available to email to other MPs and councils, Cllr Wilson and the new leader of the council accepted my offer to do so. They also agreed to get a press release about the cross party work on the letter but as this has not happened I have copied the letter to the press.
The letter draws MPs’ attention to the fact that the entire area is already far too congested to find land for more housing, schools, offices, road improvements and other needs of far more employees and twice as many users of Heathrow.
RBWM is already finding it enormously difficult to try to find land for over 12,000 more dwellings over the next 15 years, so over 17,000 would be impossible.
The fact already high property and land values would go into orbit and would increase the cost of living for everyone has not been factored into the claims about the high economic benefit forecasts for both the local and national economies.
The contention Heathrow must expand to maintain its status as the largest international hub in Europe is not supported by the facts.
There is unused capacity as the average seat use is only 76% because passengers have the luxury of a huge choice of flights as the airlines stifle competition by retaining ‘grandfather’ rights on flight slots and fly 26 daily flights to both Paris and New York, while eight less profitable hub flights to the regions have been discontinued in the past year.
The claimed economic benefit of increased tourist and export capacity fails to mention outgoing holiday traffic and imports currently result in a huge overall deficit in UK currency – and any increase in activity would make matters worse.
The proud claim freight traffic would double would exacerbate traffic congestion and pollution as all of Heathrow’s freight cargo is moved over our already inadequate roads – and roadside parking of huge trucks would increase as it is already too expensive for hauliers to provide parking facilities.
I close by noting Government should be reminded its Competition Commission forced BAA to sell Gatwick, Stansted and other airports to break its monopoly.
That would be reinstated if it were allowed to have three runways, and its sudden growth in capacity would seriously threaten the viability of the one-runway airports in the South-east.
Please pass these messages on to as many ministers and MPs as you can before they finalise their decision.
Cllr Malcolm Beer
This is what the Airports Commission said on the need for more housing etc due to the new runway. November 2014 in their document titled:
Housing & Social Infrastructure
Growth of jobs and businesses associated with the airport has the potential to put pressure on housing in the local area. The Commission’s modelling suggests that in 2030 the range of additional households associated with the scheme (direct, indirect and induced) falls within the range of 29,800 and 70,800 (dependent on the scenario).
The additional housing at the upper end of this range – which equates to an average of some 500 homes per year in each of 14 local authorities – may be challenging to deliver, especially give that many local authorities struggle to meet current housing targets. However, the rate of provision of additional housing is not significantly out of line with many existing plans for the period to 2026 or with the rate of growth envisaged in the London Plan, although some further increase may be needed in some areas. In addition, the number of local authorities involved would also allow some flexibility in how new housing may be delivered across the area as a whole. It should also be noted that this is a worst case assessment for the number of additional homes required and there are many reasons why the additional housing required is unlikely to be as high as these figures. Different assumptions around passenger demand, population growth, net migration, access to employment for local people and commuting, for example, could all reduce the housing growth requirements.
The need for additional housing provision to house the increase in residents in the area around the airport will also need to be supported by the provision of additional social infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and leisure centres. The Commission’s assessment suggests that provision of additional housing will need to be supported by the provision of additional schools 50 primary and six secondary across all 14 local authorities, two additional health centres (14 GPs) and two primary care centres per local authority to 2030. .
and Pages 44 and 45
Growth of jobs and businesses associated with the airport has the potential to put pressure on housing in the local area. Table 2.10 below demonstrates the range in the forecast of homes required as a result of airport expansion. Of the additional employees the number seeking residences in the local area is assumed to be consistent with the baseline, at 63%; a conservative assumption given the wider catchment area enabled by the surface access improvements planned.
The high end numbers are significant and could present delivery challenges, but, there are many reasons why the additional housing required is unlikely to be as high as these figures, depending on the assumptions made about population growth, net migration, unemployment and out-commuting. In addition, this housing will typically be provided in a phased manner and across the entire assessment area39 and the demands on an individual local authority are likely to be less substantial. Increased housing densities and renovation of brownfield land could be considered in meeting this need (which could result in additional costs). This additional housing will need to be supported by additional social infrastructure including schools and GP practices.
But then by the time of the final report in July 2015, the Commission said:
The analysis published as part of the consultation on the shortlisted options contained estimates for how demand for housing in the local authority areas around each airport might increase as result of growth in the number of jobs supported directly and indirectly by airport expansion. These estimates were wide-ranging as they took account of a number of potential growth scenarios. Responses to consultation focused in particular on the difficulty of planning for such a wide range or accommodating the upper end of the range. Taking these concerns into account 297 Respecting the Needs of Local Communities the Commission has undertaken further analysis focussing on the assessment of need aviation demand scenario. This suggests that for the LHR NWR scheme the theoretical maximum additional demand for housing in 2030 would be around 48,000 units but that in reality additional demand would be much smaller due to the potential for new jobs to be taken up by people already living in the area. This is set out in detail in Chapter 7.
And in Chapter 7:
For the Heathrow schemes, the expansion takes place in a rapidly growing region and a local area with comparatively high rates of unemployment (8.5%57 across the 5 local authorities closest to the airport); therefore it is expected that any additional pressure [on housing] would be limited. The economically active population in the five local authority areas closest to the airport is forecast to grow by 100,000 over the period to 2030 and in a wider group of 14 local authorities in the surrounding region by 160,000, more than twice the number of new jobs forecast to be generated by expansion. So a high proportion of new jobs may be expected to be taken up by people already living in the area and the additional capacity is not expected to result in an insurmountable requirement for additional housing. [And no figure is given. AirportWatch note].