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High-flying Gensler lands on Farnborough airport shortlist

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Gensler, Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners and Geoffrey Reid Associates have been shortlisted in a competition to transform the Ministry of Defence airstrip at Farnborough into an exclusive hub for business jets.

The trio have drawn up £35 million plans for a terminal building, hangar and control tower and are part of project teams which will also improve the runway and carry out a major overhaul of infrastructure at the airfield. The client, Swissbased watch, motor racing and jet conglomerate TAG , has outline planning permission to transform the airstrip. TAG currently rents the strip from the MoD, but will take ownership if a civil aviation licence is granted and plans to add further hangars later, bringing the total development budget to £70 million. The MoD has used Farnborough as a base for almost 100 years and it has been made famous by its annual airshow.

The designs will remain under wraps until a winner is announced next month, but TAG planning and development director Ann Bartaby said they are 'radically different' from the original concept designs drawn up by Terence O'Rourke.

The scheme has caused concern among local residents, since jets up to the size of a Boeing 737 will be using the airport. 'There's been quite a lot of controversy here but we are not trying to turn this into another Gatwick, ' Bartaby stressed. The airport is 40 minutes by car from central London but it will only be used by private planes.

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