Greens oppose Airport City Gatwick plans

I am supporting residents opposed to the construction of a 172-acre business park to the east of Horley.

Although I serve on both Surrey and Reigate and Banstead Councils, the first I heard about this was when the proposal for ‘Airport City Gatwick’ came to Reigate and Banstead’s Executive last week for agreement – you can read the paper here.

There is no need for a new business park in this area. There is very low unemployment in Horley and the wider Gatwick area [1].

Pressure on housing and transport

Creating new jobs here will mean bringing people in from outside the local area. Where will they all live? It will inevitably increase pressure for housing, when we’re already being forced to consider housing on the Green Belt near Redhill and Reigate. And it will increase commuter traffic on our already congested roads.

The proposed business park would seriously damage the local environment around Horley. It would join the built-up area of Horley with Gatwick Airport, meaning urban sprawl all the way from Horley to Crawley with no green buffer. I am concerned about the impact of Gatwick expansion on the local environment, but this, Reigate and Banstead Council say, could be built even if the airport is not expanded.

The site is within the ‘Rural Surrounds of Horley’, and partially within the ‘Gatwick Open Setting’ area – Gatwick’s own green belt – it should be protected.

Who benefits?

Reigate & Banstead Council talked of ‘economic benefits’ but the big winner appears to be Surrey County Council, not local residents.

Local residents told me that 42 acres of this land belongs to Surrey County Council [2]. The land is currently valued for farming, but as real estate its value could be as much as a million pounds an acre.

So it seems the economic benefits could be to Surrey County Council, who dropped their opposition to Gatwick expansion in 2013 [3].

The pressure to build this business park, and the value of the land, could be even greater if the government approves plans for Gatwick’s second runway, which would be built on part of Manor Royal industrial estate in Crawley.

So this looks like speculation on the possible expansion of Gatwick Airport.

At present this remains just a proposal – I will support residents opposing it.

Read more:

Keep Horley Green – Facebook campaign group

Notes:

  1. Local labour market statistics
  2. According to local residents, 42 acres of the affected farmland to the west of the Balcombe Road belongs to Surrey County Council and around 30 acres to housebuilders Wimpey. I don’t know who owns the land on the east of Balcombe Road.
  3. Surrey County Council voted in July 2013 to no longer oppose Gatwick or Heathrow expansion, with a motion backed by Conservative Councillors. I proposed an amendment to this, acknowledging that any new runway at either Heathrow or Gatwick would have seriously detrimental effects to many Surrey residents and the environment. This was not supported by Conservative Councillors, so was not adopted. See the motion and my amendment here
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