Stansted: Calls to sell back ‘second runway’ homes

AIRPORT owner BAA has been criticised for “blighting” Essex communities by not selling back the homes it purchased during a failed expansion bid.

More than 200 properties in villages surrounding the Essex hub were snapped up as part of ambitious plans to build a second runway.

Since the proposal was scrapped in May, the houses have been filled with short-term tenants or left empty.

Councillor Alan Dean, who represents Stansted Mountfitchet on Uttlesford District Council, said: “There has been a great loss of community spirit in these villages, through residents selling up and leaving.

“BAA has a responsibility to restore the communities that have been blighted by its runway plan.”

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Peter Wilcock, group leader for the Liberal Democrats in the area, added: “Although it is a private company, BAA has compulsory purchase powers similar to the Government. Now that its second runway plans have been scuppered, it should do the decent thing and offer to sell back the houses it bought.”

BAA has defended its position and has reiterated that since 2007 Stansted Airport has been selling, where possible, properties that had been acquired but were not required in the second runway project.

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A spokesman for the airport said: “Following the withdrawal of the planning application in late May 2010, we are reviewing and updating, where necessary, this managed disposal strategy.

“To help protect the functionality of the local property market, and to avoid any possible distortion, we will not go into the precise details of the disposal strategy.

“We are more than happy, though, to discuss with anyone the possibility of buying a property acquired for G2, including, of course, previous owners.

“However to date, we have yet to receive any approaches from previous occupiers wishing to buy back a property.”

In a letter to Sir Alan Haselhurst, the MP representing the villages surrounding the airport, transport secretary Theresa Villiers said: “BAA purchased properties in the vicinity of Stansted Airport as part of a non-statutory Home Owners Support Scheme to protect home owners from the effects of blight and allow them to sell homes and move away in advance of any potential second runway.

“The arrangements were entered into on a voluntary basis between home owners and BAA. Any disposal of these properties is a matter for the airport operator.”

Stansted Airport says it spends hundreds of thousands of pounds each year repairing and maintaining properties and a large majority are let and occupied.

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