Majority of voters at East or West? aviation debate hosted by WAN and World Cities Network choose proposals for East
On Tuesday 5 February, World Architecture News and World Cities Network joined forces to host a crucial debate at the Royal Geographical Society in London focusing on the future of the UK’s transport network. At the centre of the panel discussion and following Q&A was a basic but somewhat loaded question: Should the UK expand Heathrow Airport or create/expand an airport to the East? 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 alternative developments.
Following introductions from Events Director Tessa Schubert and CEO of World Cities Network Brian Kilkelly, Richard Gammon, an aviation expert from HOK’s London office gave a keynote address for the West during which he promoted a ‘practical solution’ to Heathrow’s capacity issues. After highlighting that the existing airport is running at 99% capacity at this point in time, Gammon explained that the expansion of Heathrow is ‘the natural choice’. He furthered: “Long term, there is undoubtedly a need for a new airport but we need to be open to new possibilities. We must be open to the fact that this [long term solution] may not be Heathrow but in the short term it must be Heathrow.”
Countering Gammon’s proposal was Daniel Moylan, Aviation Advisor to the Mayor of London, who also recognised the need for ‘compromise’. Moylan’s argument centred on the importance of connectivity on an international level which he suggests can only be achieved by the construction of a new airport hub in East London. He determined: “We are here as guests of World Cities Network and you can’t be part of a world cities network without being connected to an international network! We need to get real. We need to look beyond this country and learn something from other countries, like The Netherlands, France, Germany and the USA. But we’re not doing it. The sooner we make this project happen, the better the advantages will be for the country in the long term.”
These introductory speeches opened into a panel discussion chaired by WAN’s Editor in Chief Michael Hammond, debating issues such as timescale, noise pollution over West London, effects on wildlife in the Thames Estuary, the resilience of the UK’s urban infrastructure, and the regeneration of some of London’s most deprived boroughs. Fighting for the West were Richard Gammon from HOK Architects, Frank Wingate of London Business West, and Corin Taylor from the Institute of Directors, while Huw Thomas of Foster + Partners, Ian Mulcahey from Gensler, Bridget Rosewell of Testrad and Daniel Moylan fought for the East. Seated on our front row panel of experts were: Neil Bennett, Terry Farrell & Partners; Gordon Rankine, Beckett Rankine; Jolyon Brewis, Grimshaw Architects; Chris Williamson, Weston Williamson; and Paul Outwaite, RSPB.
Breakdown of audience vote
Goodwin Sands 7%
Thames Estuary 41%
London Hub Concept 15%
Full reports on the arguements for East and West are also available.