Plans unveiled to build ‘Heathrow City’ following closure of airport in 2029

Heathrow Garden City may have been dismissed by some locally as “desperate” when it was proposed by a former Government adviser two years ago. But three new schemes revealed by the Mayor of London’s office today would see Colnbrook in the suburbs of a brand new high density city with a population of 190,000!

A gleaming white metropolis intertwined with new forestation around the familiar terminal structures.  That’s one vision of the redeveloped Heathrow site should it be bulldozed in favour of a Thames Estuary airport by 2029.

Mayor, Boris Johnson, commissioned Transport for London to develop ideas for redeveloping Heathrow in conjunction with three world-respected firms of architects.

And some of the ideas aren’t just leading edge … but verging on the surreal.

Hawkins\Brown, one of the architects of Crossrail, proposes three ‘big ideas’: the UK’s first airship port, which would deliver small parcels using drones; a factory for prefabricated homes; and a ‘green belt in the green belt’ – a park on the scale of Hyde Park.


Hawkins\Brown: “Taking inspiration from crop rotation land management techniques, a series of programmes sequentially migrate around the park, creating a dynamic and ever-changing landscape of events and biomass.”

Most in common with the Garden City concept, but with a little less of the “garden”, Rick Mather Architects wants to build ten distinct neighbourhoods connected by linear parks covering the current runways, with new buildings “woven” around the retained existing buildings.

Rick Mather Architects

Rick Mather Architects: “The central area is conceived as similar to a medieval core of a town, where the historic geometries underpin the complex weave of existing buildings. A Parkland surrounds the medieval gates and walls, providing a spatial continuity to the terminal buildings.”

Finally, Maccreanor Lavington, wants to take advantage of the proximity to the M4 corridor and Thames “hub” to build a new technology campus. It wants to turn the Terminal 2 building into a civic centre and retail hub to form the heart of a new community at Heathrow Central:

Maccreanor Lavington

Maccreanor Lavington: “Existing buildings are used as seeds and nodes to establish fresh development and certain existing and historic features are used to ignite ecological and cultural diversity to create a liveable landscape.

Boris Johnson strongly advocated a new mega airport in the Thames Estuary which would require the closure of Heathrow.

Far from being a negative impact, a study released with the proposals says that redevelopment of Heathrow would release much needed land for London’s expansion. With London’s population anticipated to grow by 20% in 15 years, the 3,000 acre site represents a “rare and unique opportunity”.

In May 2012 former government adviser Graeme Bell said it was time to “reinvent” the site and revealed plans for a new sustainable community of 30,000 residents in the traditions of Hampstead Garden Suburb and Welwyn Garden City.

Today’s plans suggest something far grander.  Today’s report says the site could support 90,000 new jobs, 80,000 homes and a population of 190,000.  Rather than destroying the economy of west London redevelopment would add £7.5 billion to the UK economy.

Bet that’s a relief?

External Links

Heathrow City proposals

Transport for London report

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