Thousands of homes face demolition


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Around 1,500 homes will have to be demolished and listed buildings will be lost if a new runway is built to the north west of Heathrow airport.

And if politicians decide that, instead of Heathrow expansion, a new runway at Gatwick in West Sussex is the answer to the UK's airport capacity problems, 200 homes will be demolished.

The village of Sipson in west London had been under threat from a plan agreed by Labour for a third runway at Heathrow.

But the Davies Commission report listed the north west runway plan at Heathrow as one of its options for expansion, switching attention from Sipson to the village of Harmondsworth.

The report said this north west scheme, put forward by Heathrow airport's bosses, would require a "significant number of demolitions, totalling approximately 1,500 houses and including the loss of the village of Harmondsworth, much of which is a conservation area".

The report said around 30 listed buildings would be lost, including the Grade I-listed Great Tithe Barn and the Grade II-listed St Mary's Church.

The report said that although Heathrow Airport Ltd indicated that it would continue to examine the potential to avoid the most severe of these heritage impacts, "it is difficult to see currently how this may be achieved other than by relocating the barn and church".

The other Heathrow option on the commission's short list - extending the northern runway to the west - affects eight listed buildings (none of which are Grade I or Grade II) and the demolition of around 720 properties.

The Gatwick runway plan is another of the commission's shortlisted options. The commission's report said this plan would necessitate roughly 200 home demolitions.

There would be no loss of green belt land but there could be indirect impacts on nearby sites of special scientific interest, conservation areas and scheduled monuments.

In addition, the Gatwick plan could lead to the loss of up to 15 listed buildings, five of which are Grade II.

Brendon Sewill, chairman of the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign, said: "Now the battle is for real. The battle lines are drawn.

"Now the spotlight is on Gatwick, the next step will be to examine the runway plans in detail, and it will be found that Gatwick is an unsuitable site. It is too small, it can never be a four-runway

Hayes and Harlington Labour MP John McDonnell, whose constituency includes Heathrow, said: "At the last election David Cameron advised people to vote blue to go green. He used the blocking of a third runway at Heathrow as the prime example of the Conservatives' conversion to green policies

"Setting up the Davies inquiry has been a cynical and obvious ploy to allow him to drop his commitment to my constituents and the people of west London. Many of my constituents whose homes, school and even church will be bulldozed by a third runway will view this as a disgraceful betrayal. We are a community betrayed."

John Stewart, chairman of Heathrow residents group Hacan, said: "Although Davies's proposals focus less on Heathrow than had been rumoured, there is little doubt they will act as the trigger to 18 months of intense campaigning against Heathrow expansion.

"A new runway will increase planes from 480,000 a year to 560,000. There is no way overall noise levels will decrease.

"The scale of the opposition will be great. We believe that they (the proposals) are politically undeliverable and should have been dropped at this stage."

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