Today we have published our plans for replacing London City Airport with a new housing and business quarter for Londoners.
I talked about this on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 earlier this month. With just 1.5% of air passengers across the UK, the airport is a blight on London whose flights could be absorbed by other London airports easily, especially if we dampen down demand with a frequent flyer levy aimed at those who fly most often. Our briefing now describes just how we can do this.
We have also today released an incredible visualisation by Ash Sakula Architects, of how this huge site could be transformed:
The size and potential of the airport – and the massive waste of space involved in using it for such a polluting and noisy neighbour – really comes across in this image and I’m so inspired by seeing it to make sure this transformation happens if I am Mayor.
The airport is currently on the market for an estimated £2 billion, and I’m supporting a petition launched today by our City and East London Assembly candidate, Rachel Collinson, urging one of the current bidders, the German-based insurance giant Allianz, to heed the compelling business case to change the use of the site.
A study by the New Economics Foundation has shown that the area, which covers half a million square metres, could be used to create at least 16,000 more jobs and add an additional £400 million to the UK’s economy if it were freed up for other uses.
The airport will become even more irrelevant once Crossrail opens and provides a fast connection between Canary Wharf and Heathrow. And it’s holding back London’s economic potential, undermining the existing enterprise zone here in Newham, and causing untold health and environmental problems to thousands of local residents.
The site can also be used to create thousands of new homes within easy reach of central London, easing both the housing crisis and pressure on our transport system.
If this prime piece of the land were used sustainably for innovative businesses, residential areas, leisure, cultural facilities and shops, it would go a long way towards solving many of London’s problems at the same time.
Pollution-related death rates around the airport are among the highest in the country, and ‘crash zone’ rules are preventing development in the local area. all for the sake of a TINY number of passengers.
Closing City Airport is definitely an idea whose time has come!