MPs Prepare to Vote for a Commercial Take-Off!
“Check in” – a look back on events leading to today’s vote
In 2009 the incumbent transport secretary Geoff Hoon declared that the cabinet at the time supported the notion of a Third Runway to be built at Heathrow Airport. On 5 June 2018, almost ten years later, the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced that MPs will have a vote on the proposed expansion plan, which has been set for today – 25 June 2018.
Such an announcement has been widely condemned by a number of senior politicians. Boris Johnson, MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, has vowed to lie down in front of bulldozers to prevent the proposed expansion and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has already provided his backing to a legal challenge against the plans.
Conversely, there is an equally large powerful lobby of pro-expansion campaigners (most prominently featured in the ‘Back Heathrow’ campaign), ranging from MPs to local Chambers of Commerce and Trade Unions. Their main source of argument derives from that of a powerful economic case – quoting that the expansion will increase airport capacity and revenue.
“At the Boarding Gate” – advantages for business
With the UK’s impending exit from the European Union, Britain needs to be demonstrating to the world that it is ‘open for business’ and the expansion of Heathrow is undoubtedly a step in the right direction.
One of the key economic arguments of the ‘Vote Leave’ campaign was to open the country up to trading with the world, unfettered. As the Chief Executive of Heathrow Airport, John Holland-Kaye, quoted at a British Chamber of Commerce conference, “if you want to be a global Britain, you will have to expand your global airport”.
As Parmjit Dhanda, Executive Director of the Back Heathrow campaign asserted, “Heathrow is placed to play a big part in UK success post-Brexit”. The fact is, Heathrow is not only a necessary hub for ferrying business professionals – it is also a hub for commerce and trading goods.
The advantages for businesses in and around Heathrow are abundant, but the core advantages can be best summarised as follows:
1) CONSTRUCTION – The first benefit is undoubtedly to local, regional and national professionals, contractors and sub-contractors. The construction of the airport itself is due to take more than five years and will require varying levels of input from surveyors, engineers, architects, builders and tradesmen.
2) THAMES VALLEY AND SURREY – The second benefit will be for the hundreds of businesses located in the Thames Valley, Surrey and West London areas. The airport location and expansion will bring greater connection for their international and regional offices, as well as giving their businesses greater appeal for investors and new clients.
3) LOGISTICS AND FREIGHT – The third opportunity for increased business must be for the many logistics and freight companies located in the vicinity of the airport. These businesses are likely to benefit from the additional flights and capacity of the airport, leading to higher demand for importing and exporting of goods.
4) RETAIL AND HOTELS – Finally, the construction of a ‘sixth’ terminal is likely to attract businesses from both the retail and hotel/leisure sector once the construction has been finalised. The A4 road that runs to the north of Heathrow is already rich with distinguished hotel chains (Marriott, Ibis and Hilton to name a few) no doubt the expansion could encourage the same chains to open up additional hotels near the new terminal.
“Internal Transfer” – the proposed Western Rail Link
In addition to the infrastructure colossus that is the airport expansion, Network Rail recently announced plans to develop a ‘Western Rail Link’ that would essentially arch southwards from Langley Station towards Heathrow Terminal 5. If approved, the plan would result in Great Western Railway, London Underground (Piccadilly and Elizabeth Line) and the Heathrow Express serving the airport.
The link would serve as an efficiency booster for the London to South West England rail route, connecting the South Coast, South West, South Wales, West Midlands with Heathrow Airport, thereby bypassing the need for passengers to change at London Paddington.
This proposition is yet another boost for Thames Valley businesses looking to benefit from the construction aspect, whilst passengers and airport workers looking to get to Heathrow Airport will benefit from quicker access to their destination. Public consultation is currently underway, with a view to the submission of a development consent order for the project in 2019.
“Come Fly with me” – the future
Companies considering starting up or expanding into the Thames Valley or Heathrow areas will have the benefit of numerous transportation options and a thriving business area on their doorstep. With Slough Trading Estate nearby, excellent rail links into London and the regions and an ambitious post-Brexit economy in store, investment and growth in the area is likely to be rewarded.
If you are a business in the Thames Valley and Heathrow area and require advice on a new business lease or proposed purchase of a premises, please contact a member of the Commercial Property team on 020 3814 2020. Similarly, if you are an existing business in the Thames Valley and Heathrow area and require advice on an existing lease arrangement or tenancy please contact a member of the team.