New London mayor Sadiq Khan has cleared the way for the further expansion of London City Airport, by removing a City Hall objection to the airport’s purchase of a key parcel of land.
The move is an about turn from the policy of previous incumbent Boris Johnson, who blocked the sale. His resistance had led the city airport’s owners to seek a compulsory purchase order.
A spokesman for Khan, revealing the move, commented: “The mayor has decided to withdraw the objection to this proposed compulsory purchase of land owned by City Hall following new evidence recently submitted by London City Airport and ongoing negotiations.”
The airport is still waiting for the decision of a planning inspector into its application for expansion. Despite receiving support from local planning authority Newham, the scheme to expand flights by 40%, grow the terminal and build a new parallel taxiway was refused by Johnson, and went to appeal.
The airport’s management noted: “We are pleased with the GLA’s decision to withdraw its objection to the CPO and look forward to working with them to procure the area of land necessary to build the City Airport Development Programme, subject to planning permission being granted.”
The move was welcomed by some, including lobby group London First, whose infrastructure director David Leam commented: “This shows there is a new mayor in town willing to take a more pragmatic view than Boris on strengthening London’s international air links. It sends a strong signal to government to approve City Airport’s planning application, which has the support of the local authority, the business community and now City Hall.”
But not everyone was happy, with the Green Party immediately slamming the new mayor for “putting paid to his pledge to be the greenest mayor London’s had.”
LPA Perspective: This move suggests mayor Khan is going to be more positive towards airports, and airport expansion, in the name of supporting London’s economy. But for the city airport, its expansion plans currently depend on the verdict of a planning inspector, sometime soon.
Khan has previously indicated he would like Gatwick to be expanded, and take up the demand in the south east for more air travel, while he has said he would resist another runway being built at Heathrow. However, he is not in charge of that decision. And now we have a Labour mayor in office, and a Conservative government in control of deciding on airport expansion, don’t be surprised if the verdict goes Heathrow’s way.