Sunday, September 07, 2008

LDA and Developers - Building Homes Under the Flight Path?

Who wins, who loses with new homes being built under flight paths and by the side of London City Airport? Government, developers or residents? We don't think most will have difficulty in guessing the right answer.

The London Development Agency - LDA's Thames Gateway is an area which is blighted by the increasing use of jets and proposed expansion of flights, but this is just the tip of the iceberg: there's the Lea Valley, the Olympic site (the powers to be haven't mentioned the effect of LCA flights on this area), Poplar, Isle of Dogs, London Riverside, Silvertown Quays. All will be affected when they are developed. LDA need to consider their position on how they expect residents to live along an increasingly noisy airport or beneath it's flightpath - and one that wants to get a lot noisier. After all, LDA are the freeholders of the land which LCA operates on - so they could do rather a lot.

Here's some of the key players in the current and future 'residential regeneration' of the areas affected beneath the flight paths of London City Airport:

Barratts - Elektron "....a brand new rail link will whisk you to London City Airport in just fifteen minutes, virtually door to door" . But you may feel like you are rather nearer than 15 minutes away from the airport by the levels of the noise from the planes as they take off overhead.

Tilfen - Tamesis Point Occupying one of 13 locations identified as an opportunity area in the Mayor's draft plan for London, Tamesis Point will see the creation of over 2,000 new homes along a mile of the Thames River.Within an outstanding location, this landmark scheme will be dominated by a north-south orientated axis with a series of grand public spaces and formal gardens.The development will take its influences from Georgian London, while the masterplan is designed to deliver fresh, contemporary architecture with landmark buildings and community and leisure facilities befitting the location. Will they tell prospective residents that the site is partially covered by the public safety zone and they will be in the new noise contours? That it is immediately beneath the low level flight path? The one thing that 'Georgian London' didn't have was 87db+ over the roofs of their homes every 90 seconds!

Silvertown Quays
Living and breathing spaces
Silvertown Quays will be an exciting mix of new residential districts providing private and social housing with new public spaces, landscaping and a rejuvenated dock area. It will be the location for some 5,000 attractive new homes in a variety of designs and sizes - fashioned by a range of innovative architects. Many will have stunning views over the Royal Docks and the Thames. All homes will provide modern living space. There will be access to a private garden, roof terrace or balcony, or there will be shared spaces in semi-private gardens.
Sustainable communities
"The creation of a sustainable community is the goal at Silvertown Quays, it will be focused on the UK Government's policy to encourage the regeneration of brownfield sites for the benefit of local communities. It will be a safe environment for both young and old. There will be new public open spaces, a primary school, health centre and community facilities."
Will they tell future residents that is it beneath a flight path, at the end of the runway, just at the tip of the 1 in 10,000 crash zone, that the current noise levels measure 87db+ per flight are and increasing? A safe environment? Suitable to build a school on and expect residents to spend time outside, let alone live there? As for using a balcony - having windows open won't be too much of an option, let alone sitting on a balcony!

It's about time that the decision makers started to see the bigger picture, and start working on evidence based policy making. What they are currently doing is not working - residents are not happy in the regeneration areas and who can blame them? Vortexes, high and increasing levels of jet noise, and air pollution - it's not exactly what any neighbourhood needs.

Airports expanding in densely built residential areas does not work, and to continue to new build in those areas only continues to deny residents any quality of life, misleads them, affects their health and their pockets. People make communities and they should come first.

Those dreams and plans of much needed homes are just all falling down....