The designs by a trio of architects for a new town on the site of Heathrow Airport have been released
Hawkins\Brown, Rick Mather Architects and Stirling Prize-winner Maccreanor Lavington were asked by London Mayor Boris Johnson in May to draw up plans for a 80,000 home development on the site of the existing airport west of the capital.
The appointments were part of Johnson’s drive to convince government to back a new hub airport to the east of London – a move which could lead to the closure of Heathrow and the site redeveloped as housing.
Speaking about his Heathrow plans, Johnson said: ‘ All these scenarios would potentially create some of the many thousands of new jobs and homes this city will require given London is expected to increase in size by a fifth within the next 15 years. How we deal with that is something we need to be planning for and debating right now.
‘We must be ready to start redeveloping Heathrow the moment it moves to its new site. And the sooner we start planning the better.’
However the Mayor’s proposed shift of London’s aviation capacity to a Thames Estuary airport – an ambitious attempt to tackle the UK’s aviation capacity problem which is also backed by Foster + Partners – lost significant ground this week following the publication of a series of in-depth impact reports which branded the scheme ‘costly, challenging and risky’.
Four feasibility studies drawn up for the independent Davies Commission warned that Johnson’s preferred Inner Thames Estuary (ITE) airport could be an overwhelming failure, lead to ‘unprecedented’ engineering challenges, cost more per passenger than Heathrow and rack up billions of pounds in site preparation.
Running to more than 600 pages, the combined reports looked at all the major issues thrown up by moving London’s main airport to the Isle of Grain including the environmental impact, social economic issues such as housing, transport access and the viability of moving airline operations from one airport to another.
According to the environmental assessment estimated that the cost of providing alternative habitats for wildlife affected by the Thames Estuary airport alone would be in the range of £2billion.
The Davies Commission is due to decide in the autumn whether to include a Thames estuary option in the shortlist to identify where new airport capacity should be built, having already announced it would be looking in more detail at expanding either Heathrow and Gatwick.
Rick Mather Architects – The Transforming City
The site would become a ‘new hub city’ working with the existing structure and using the terminals as ‘generators to development’. The former runways would define the structure of the city and connect ten distinct local centres.
Hawkins\Brown – Romance of the skies
The proposal includes a factory for homes and a ‘green belt in the green belt’ and increasing the rate of new housing being built by creating a factory for building homes.
Maccreanor Lavington – Liveable Landscape
A fully functioning city within the metropolis, a mixing ecology, culture, employment and liveability. Existing buildings are used to establish fresh development and new forestation is laid down.