Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Part 1: The Scandal of London City Airport's Public Safety Zones

We've been looking into the issue of Public Safety Zones (PSZ) for some time now after initially seeing a toy town map in the original application by LCA. Newham Council initially told us that the expansion of the PSZ was 'minimal' when we asked if it would be covering many more homes. Minimal is a word we have heard and read a lot since dealing with LCA and Newham. Unfortunately their 'minimal' often means completely the opposite in our experience. Since then requests for rather more grown up, professional, current and future PSZ maps have been met by LCA and now the situation has become somewhat clearer for some households.

However clarity of the maps and the dwellings that the PSZ extends over has not provided reassurance at all, it has provided anxiety and a lot of questions that are going unanswered by Newham Council Planning Department and London City Airport (LCA). Ever heard that phrase 'it is not a planning issue' - here at Fight The Flights we've heard that more often than we care to mention. So much for Sir Robin's "it's important to me to represent you and to listen to your views".

The Department for Transport has provided guidance for authorities in regard to building and current dwellings in PSZ's. Essentially no new building is allowed to occur, unless planning permission was given before the PSZ was drawn up. Homes that are currently not in the PSZ but will find themselves in it if expansion goes ahead won't be getting too much support from the Government/Newham/LCA it seems. Dft make it clear that: “The economic costs of removing existing development throughout the Zones would, however, outweigh the safety benefits of doing so, and the Secretary of State is therefore not proposing that course”. So LCA can continue to keep their wallets tightly closed on this one.

That's reassuring.

The PSZ is a map, which is a triangular area extending out from each end of the run way. It has been calculated to be at most risk of an aviation incident at landing or take off. The maps size and length is calculated on a variety of issues, the number of flights and types being just a couple of the factors which influence it's size. So more flights equals a larger PSZ - and in West Thamesmead, Greenwich in particular this means many more family homes will find themselves in this high risk zone. Now, you would think that those dwellings that will find themselves in the new enlarged PSZ, would be the first to be told by Newham about this. Well, surprise they have not been told at all - and unless they read this and have read through the PSZ documents they will have no idea at all. In reality all we can tell them is that their properties will be in the zone - we can't tell them what the implications will be as Newham Council and London City Airport have not provided that information even though it has been requested.

The PSZ maps indicate that the following roads, and buildings will be in the new zone on the east side of the runway: Hill House, Bridge House, Defence Close - Gallions Reach Urban Village, SE28. Unfortunately we are not talking about just one or two dwellings being bought into the PSZ, but hundreds. If you wish to see this map please email Fight the Flights and an electronic copy will be sent to you.

Our main concerns regarding PSZ's are:

1. Do the residents that are in homes within the new PSZ maps realise that they are?
2. Will they be able to get insurance on their properties?
3. Will their property be eligible for a mortgage when it comes to selling or switching mortgages?
4. Will the value of their property be affected?

Realistically - would you want to purchase/live in a property that is in a PSZ? Well if your answer is no, and many others say the same then it's likely it will affect the values of the homes.
We feel it is SCANDALOUS that LCA and Newham Council are not willing to answer these questions.

But we are not only concerned about the economic issue but also of the safety of these residents: Mums, Dads, Grandparents, Children, they could be your relations...they all live in the area.

And what does this say about LCA and Newham? We think it says a lot - that they simply don't care about residents safety at all.
We'd also say this is yet another one of the very good reasons why residents and council's should be objecting to and blocking LCA's expansion

Coming Soon - Part 2 The scandal of London City Airport's Public Safety Zone