Alarm at proposals to develop Northolt
Hillingdon councillors will ‘robustly oppose’ 20,000-home scheme
COUNCILLORS in Hillingdon have reacted in horror to the proposal to close the historic RAF Northolt station and build 20,000 homes on the site in an attempt to combat London’s housing crisis.
The idea was submitted by Ealing Council for the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s ‘City for All Londoners’ document, which outlines challenges and opportunities from across the capital.
Ealing suggested the working 100-year-old RAF station could be closed as it ‘serves no real strategic importance’ and the land could instead be developed for housing.
The council has called for ‘radical thinking’ and said the plans could help meet the housing challenges London faces, but Hillingdon Council in the neighbouring borough has vowed to oppose the plans, saying 20,000 houses would put too much pressure on public services.
An Ealing Council spokesman said: “London is facing a massive housing crisis and we believe that some radical thinking is needed.
“We submitted the possibility of developing sites in Ealing, and the neighbouring borough, to help meet this challenge as part of our recent response to the Mayor of London’s consultation on his City for All Londoners document.
“The development of RAF Northolt is one idea currently up for discussion.”
The City for All Londoners consultation ran from October 24 to December 11 last year, and encouraged a wide range of groups to put forward their views to shape policy at City Hall.
Challenges looked at in the consultation included housing, transport, crime, culture, health and economic development, and the document sets out changes City Hall wants to make over the next four years. Ealing Council is not the only body raising the suggestion of building on RAF Northolt.
The airfield, which is owned by the Ministry of Defence, was also highlighted in a report by the London Society, an organisation that encourages public interest in planning and transport in the capital, which said even more homes could be fitted into the site.
The report, titled ‘Re/Shaping London: Unlocking Sustainable Growth in West London and Beyond’ and published in October 2015, says Northolt could be the site of a new ‘Garden City’ in London, including 40,000 new homes and 65,000 jobs.
It says: “[Northolt] is severely constrained in aviation terms, with problems which would hamper commercial operation.
“Northolt is nonetheless wellconnected, being served by three underground stations with the A40 running alongside. A commission should be launched to explore military aviation capacity within the south-east of England and whether there is a better-suited alternative.
“If other locations were acceptable, Northolt airport could be released to deliver an entirely new Garden City within London, with a potential capacity in excess of 40,000 new homes and 65,000 jobs.”
At a full Hillingdon Council meeting in Uxbridge on Thursday January 19 leader Ray Puddifoot was asked if the authority would oppose the proposal to build on RAF Northolt.
Cllr Puddifoot said: “A development of this scale would be expected to accommodate between 45,000 and 60,000 residents.
“Taking the lower of these estimates would generate around 13,000 children requiring a school place and the need for between 30 and 40 new GPs. Whilst I do appreciate living in Hillingdon would look very attractive to those living in other London boroughs, that would not be the case if we got involved with massive over-developments of this kind.
“Those councillors who represent the Ruislip area and Hillingdon wards that will be massively affected can ensure their residents we will robustly oppose this.”
‘OVER-DEVELOPMENT’: Councillor Ray Puddifoot, leader of Hillingdon Council, says he will oppose building
‘RADICAL’: Plans have surfaced to close the historic base to make way for housing