LONDON: A report commissioned by the mayor of London Boris Johnson says closing Heathrow and redeveloping the site could produce 90,000 new jobs and provide homes for 190,000 people.
According to operator LHR Airports, approximately 76,000 people work at Heathrow. Report author Jones Lang LaSalle suggests many of these jobs would move to Johnson's proposed alternative east of London.
The mayor says he wants his report to provoke a solution to the challenge posed by an expected increase of 1.6 million to London's population by 2030.
Jones Lang LaSalle has proposed four scenarios for the Heathrow site assuming a replacement airport is built: A new education and technology quarter based around two new universities supporting 100,000 jobs and generating an extra £7.8 billion a year for the London economy; a new town for 112,000 people with 76,000 new jobs producing around £6 billion; or a new residential quarter with 82,000 new homes supporting a population of 200,000 while creating 54,000 jobs and generating £3.9 billion a year.
A fourth option posed by the report is a so-called 'Heathrow City' composed of 80,000 new homes built around existing transport facilities. Some terminal buildings would remain for retail, town and convention centre use. There would be a focus on education, commercial research and manufacturing to support 90,000 jobs generating £7.5 billion a year for the London economy.
Commenting on the report Johnson said: "I believe there is no question that the best option for increasing our aviation capacity is now to the east of London, just as there is no question that Heathrow would then present a unique, once in a lifetime opportunity to create a new town within the capital that would supply thousands more homes and jobs.
Johnson said relocating Heathrow will bring benefits to both east and west London and the report is "about clearing away the smoke screen put up by people whose loyalty is to their shareholders." He added: "Londoners should be in no doubt: if Heathrow is allowed a third runway, it will be rapidly followed by a fourth, as airlines move out of Gatwick to take up the new capacity. My vision offers the capital world-class air links combined with thousands of new homes and jobs. An expanded Heathrow just offers more misery."