The Government’s decision to award a third runway to Heathrow Airport this morning will be greeted with reserved satisfaction by campaign groups, residents and sections of the business community within Crawley.
Whilst the Government have officially backed Heathrow, the delivery of a third runway is likely to receive a fraught and lengthy trip through the legislative and planning process, and is almost certain to be subject of litigation.
It is expected that in the mean time Gatwick Airport will continue to lobby for a second runway, with some newspapers reporting last week that Gatwick would intend on progressing a planning application in any case.
It is understood by DMH Stallard that Gatwick Airport will at least petition the Government to maintain the area identified as ‘safeguarded land’ for the purposes of the airport until such a time that a third runway at Heathrow has been shown to be deliverable. This land is subject to Policy GAT2 of the Crawley Local Plan 2030.
Policy GAT2 effectively prohibits any development other than minor extensions and changes of use, which is a constraint for businesses north of Manor Royal seeking to expand. It also acts as a limitation on the use of Manor Royal fringes, which might otherwise be acceptable for development, for new business uses.
Of course, there will also be business owners and developers that will be disappointed by this news, it was expected that a second runway at Gatwick would be a significant boost to the ‘Gatwick Diamond’ economy and lead to a spate of new housing and business led developments to meet new demand.
Whilst the announcement might be a reason to celebrate for those constrained by safeguarded land and those concerned about the environmental effects, it is unlikely that the issue of airport expansion at Gatwick will go away quietly.