‘Forget Third Runway, turn it into Heathrow Garden City’: former Government Advisor

From the Evening Standard:

Heathrow’s runways and terminals should be bulldozed to make way for a “garden city”, says a new report to be published tomorrow. Former government adviser Graeme Bell said it was time to “reinvent” the site that is increasingly ill-suited to the needs of a modern hub airport.

heathrow garden city large

Airline bosses prefer a third runway at Heathrow to solve London’s capacity crisis rather than a disruptive shift.

But Mr Bell is in favour of a new airport elsewhere, possibly the Thames Estuary. Many experts believe that would only be viable if Heathrow, which supports 250,000 jobs, was closed down.

Mr Bell said the five square mile airport site would be the perfect location for a new sustainable community of more than 30,000 residents in the traditions of Hampstead Garden Suburb and Welwyn Garden City.

The senior planning chief said the demolition of Heathrow, which started life as Harmondsworth Aerodrome in 1930, could provide “the biggest redevelopment site in Europe”.

His 16-page paper Heathrow Garden City by the Town and Country Planning Association, foresees four low-density garden suburbs with “allotments, community gardens and orchards” of about 5,000 people each and two urban villages of about 10,000 in total. As well as homes, it would have shops and offices that would make it a “west London counterpoint to Canary Wharf” and an educational campus based at the Terminal 5 building, the only structure that would definitely be kept.

There would also be 1,000 acres of parkland — roughly the same as Regent’s Park, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens put together — and 86 acres of open water, more than three times the size of the Serpentine. The garden city would be served by the four existing railway stations and a new Crossrail station.

Mr Bell, currently director of planning for Devon county council, said he was inspired to draw up his vision when he drove to pick up a friend from Heathrow.

He said: “Rather than park in a BAA car park, which costs an arm and a leg, I decided to park in one of the streets off the A4 close to the end of one of the runways. I was aware of the colossal noise when planes were taking off and the awful smell. It really can’t be doing you any good to live with that noise and smell. I thought, ‘This is a really bad use of a piece of land inside the M25.’ Airports ought to be accessible but outside the city limits.”

Mr Bell said he had not costed Heathrow Garden City but said the huge development value of the site would make it financially viable.

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