For an introduction to the East or West Aviation debate hosted by World Architecture News and World Cities Network on 5 February 2012 at the Royal Geographical Society in London, please click here.
Richard Gammon, HOK: Gatwick Redevelopment and Heathrow Terminal 2
Opening the case for West London at WAN’s East or West? Aviation Debate was Richard Gammon of HOK’s London office whose strong belief in a practical solution rung clear through his entire keynote address. Gammon’s argument looks towards a long term solution to the UK’s airport capacity to ‘safeguard London’s future’.
During his keynote speech, Gammon explained that the debate should keep ‘a central focus on London, not the merits of one airport over another’. What he does believe however is that the short term answer to the UK’s problems is the expansion of the existing Heathrow Airport as it has been ‘proven as an international airport, and a regional and national economy booster’.
One point that both Gammon (East) and Daniel Moylan, Aviation Advisor to the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson could agree on was that ‘there is undoubtedly a need for a new airport long term…and we need to be open and creative to new possibilities’.
Where Gammon differs from the West panel is in his position on the continuation of operations at Heathrow and its potential for expansion. He explained: “A third runway is a ready-to-go solution and offers the path of least resistance. The one thing we can’t control is time. Heathrow will get us where we want to be the
Frank Wingate, London Business West
For Frank Wingate it was imperative that the assembled panel of experts and audience members remember that the development of the UK’s transport network was ‘a national issue’ and should not centre so much on social issues within the London boroughs. Throughout the evening’s debate - which continued for over two and a half hours - various points were made about how certain developments could aid the regeneration of some of the poorest areas in London. Wingate’s argument was that we need to look at the bigger picture to decide what is best for the UK economy rather than just the London economy.
Neil Bennett of Terry Farrell & Partners was one of the front row experts during the East or West? debate and supported Wingate’s assertion that the challenge was ‘a national issue’ and that the solution needed to be for the betterment of the entire country. He voiced concerns ‘that people are polarised’, explaining that Terry Farrell & Partners strategic outlook uses existing infrastructure across the country to ease capacity problems. He rounded off with the question: “Would a dual hub model be a potential solution?”
Also of great importance to Wingate and the rest of the West panel was the impact that closing Heathrow would have on local residents, many of whom are currently employed at the airport facility. He explained: “A lot of people in West London are local; their families need jobs and they have businesses there.” This was swiftly countered by Moylan who proclaimed: “West London needs to be put into perspective. As people move, we can be reasonably comfortable that people will come to take their place.”
Cost was lighted on several times during the debate with numbers from £37bn to £70bn flitting across the room. Despite Wingate’s earlier suggestion that decision-makers look further than the boundaries of London when considering aviation expansion plans, he concluded with the idea of investing in the success of the recent London Olympic Games, stating: “West London supported the Olympics; let’s invest in that success.”
Corin Taylor, Institute of Directors
Senior Economic Adviser to the Institute of Directors (IoD) and author of the IoD’s report ‘Flying into the Future’, Corin Taylor explained that in a recent survey conducted by the IoD, its members
confirmed that while they would consider the construction of a new airport in the east of London, this option would be dismissed should it mean the termination of Heathrow.
Also against the closure of Heathrow was Chris Williamson of Weston Williamson who was one of the debate’s front row experts. Weston Williamson is currently working on comprehensive plans for a flight hub at Luton, as Williamson explained: “We need to keep our options open which Luton would do. We need a solution which is incremental; we can’t simply close Heathrow.”
Taylor also countered Moylan’s assertion that while advances have been made in the reduction of noise pollution caused by planes, progress in the field has drastically slowed therefore excess noise is still a viable factor in the closure Heathrow. Taylor argued that the number of older planes that use Heathrow is high therefore if these are upgraded, the level of noise pollution can be managed to a high degree.
In an anonymous vote from the audience of over 100 architects, engineers, economists and key figures from within the industry, 64% of attendees were in favour of constructing or expanding an airport in the East, while 21% voted for additional runways at Heathrow (West). 15% were in favour of an alternative concept.
Breakdown of the results
Thames Estuary: 41%
London Hub Concept: 15%
Goodwin Sands: 7%
Images top to bottom: Richard Gammon, Frank Wingate, Corin Taylor
East or West?
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