I agree with the Mid Sussex district councillors that we should be very concerned about the housing implications of a second runway at Gatwick.
An extra runway not only doubles the airport capacity but also doubles its staff housing needs. Today the airport directly and indirectly employs 43,500 people on and off the airport. Mid Sussex houses 8.2% of these - now double this and for the second runway which will add 3,500 in the short term. But that’s a fraction of the knock on effect for the future.
Consider Crawley: in 1951 the population was 10,000 today it’s 107,000. A new airport increases the local population tenfold. Figures for Heathrow local area growth match this too. Crawley is bursting at the seams and won’t be able to double its current share of 31.8% of staff housing. So we can expect to see Maidenbower sized estates and infill development embracing Handcross, Slaugham, Staplefield, Cuckfield, Haywards Heath, Burgess Hill, etc.
But why the 10x increase? It’s not just the houses for the extra airport and airline staff but the services that support the influx of people. It’s the shop assistants, doctors, nurses, police, care staff, taxi drivers, garage mechanics, plumbers, builders, delivery people, etc. Plus future family generational growth over 30+ years.
I can’t put a figure on it - but based on history, this would lead to a massive influx. And housing and industrial development will spoil much of the picturesque M23 corridor - with its impact felt ten miles either side. And then think about road capacity and traffic congestion, size of reservoirs, shopping developments, sewage and waste disposal, hospitals and schools to cater for this growth.
We may like our local airport, and in my view Gatwick Airport Ltd is doing a great job, but do we really need this? With 50% spare capacity at both Luton and Stansted is it really necessary?