Stansted runway 'would boost economy'

HOUSE prices and the region's economy will be boosted for years to come if controversial airport expansion plans get the go-ahead, an independent survey of estate agents has revealed.

HOUSE prices and the region's economy will be boosted for years to come if controversial airport expansion plans get the go-ahead, an independent survey of estate agents has revealed.

Eight out of 10 estate agents surveyed by international law firm DLA LLB believe a second runway at Stansted Airport would benefit the Essex housing market and boost the county economically.

The specialist London law firm asked 100 estate agents from across Essex - and a further 20 within a 10-mile radius of the airport - their views on the impact of general transport infrastructure on the housing market.

The survey findings reveal a large majority believe that expanding Stansted would be beneficial.

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Of those interviewed within the 10-mile radius, three-quarters said it was clear from discussions with clients that having a major international airport on their doorsteps made the area more attractive.

Only 10% of agents said a major international airport would make purchasing a house in the area less attractive, according to the survey, which was conducted in two phases in August and at the beginning of September.

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The figures were immediately seized upon by Stansted Airport operator BAA, which has been engaged in a protracted battle with protesters opposed to a second runway.

The company claims the report is proof of underlying confidence in its proposals.

Mark Pendlington, communications director of BAA Stansted, said: “Any negative movement in the property market is a concern to all of us who live near the airport.

“We are watching very carefully how the market is being affected at the moment. This latest survey does support our view that there is confidence in the longer term property market.

“The professionals, who are selling houses and talking to property buyers, clearly believe a growing airport helps increase demand for homes, which in turn helps to protect property values.

“Stansted is recognised as vital to the region's economy.”

The company last week launched its Home Ownership Support Scheme designed to guarantee the prices of properties closest to the airport.

But Carol Barbone, communications director of campaign group Stop Stansted Expansion, said: “We agree that over a wider area there may well be both winners and losers in the housing market resulting from the proposed airport expansion.

“But homes within half a mile of the proposed second runway are clearly blighted today and yet are excluded from BAA's Home Owner Support Scheme.

“If BAA really believes that these properties are unaffected by blight, it should have no concerns about allowing each case to be independently considered on its merits.

“BAA should let the decision be made independently by the District Valuer instead of BAA acting as judge and jury.”

Meanwhile, the formal planning application for the second runway has been delayed.

Alistair McDermid, director of the Stansted new runway project, told BAA's senior managers that he now expects to make the application in late spring 2006 instead of late 2005 as previously stated.

However, he insisted the new runway scheme is on target for completion in 2012.

He said: “I have taken the decision to align our application for permission to build the new runway with the separate applications required for the new road and rail infrastructure.

“This way, we give the planning authority a much clearer basis to make our formal application.”

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