The airport’s CEO said its plan to increase flights will bring new jobs, more choice of holiday destinations for passengers and better local transport connections, reports Ruby Gregory, Local Democracy Reporter
London City Airport is launching an appeal after Newham Council blocked its plans to expand its flying time on Saturday afternoons following hundreds of objections from local residents.
The airport had submitted a planning application to Newham Council to extend its cut-off time for flights from 1pm on Saturdays to 6.30pm all year round and 7.30pm during the summer months, as well increasing its daily limit of flights from six to nine between 6.30am and 7am.
However on Monday (July 10), the council’s strategic development committee unanimously rejected its plans having cited noise disturbance and the impact it could have on the environment as major concerns.
Robert Sinclair, who is the airport’s CEO, admitted he was “disappointed” with the council’s decision and said the airport had worked “incredibly hard” on the plans.
Mr Sinclair said: “We are disappointed with Newham Council’s refusal of our proposals that will deliver significant benefits to our local community including new jobs, more choice of holiday destinations for passengers and better local transport connections.
“We have worked incredibly hard to develop proposals that genuinely reflect concerns raised, sought feedback from our local community and worked closely with the council’s planning officers.”
He added: “Their views are built into our proposals to ensure that we addressed appropriate concerns and continue to be a good neighbour and local employer.
“If the appeal can be determined shortly, our airlines will be able to progress re-fleeting to cleaner, quieter, new generation aircraft sooner; delivering more choice for passengers, more jobs for local people and reducing the overall noise impact as early as next summer.”
The LDRS understands that once a planning appeal is lodged with the Planning Inspectorate, an independent planning inspector will decide the fate of the planning application.
The plans were met with 1,644 objections from nearby residents during a public consultation and the London boroughs of Lewisham, Waltham Forest, Redbridge, Southwark, Greenwich, Havering, Hackney and Tower Hamlets also opposed the plans.
For the last 25 years the airport has had a “weekend respite” which means planes are banned from flying between 1pm on Saturdays to 12.30pm on Sundays so residents can have a break from the noise.
Cllr Sarah Ruiz, whose ward is Custom House, spoke out against the plans during Monday’s planning meeting and said residents’ lives had been “blighted”.
She said: “Only yesterday afternoon I was in a garden in Custom House and it was impossible to sit and enjoy being there because of the noise, 24 hours of quiet time is not a lot to ask for those residents whose lives have been blighted.”
Planning officers had recommended the application be refused, and case officer Liam McFadden told the committee on Monday that the benefits of the scheme were “insufficient to outweight or mitigate the substantial harm identified”.
A spokesperson for Newham Council told the LDRS the plans will now be referred to the GLA (Greater London Authority).
They said: “The refusal reflects the council’s continued concerns over the noise and environmental impact of the airport on those living nearby.
“These concerns were shared by a number of other boroughs who also submitted objections to the proposals.”
They added: “The application will now be referred to the GLA.
“The committee’s decision upholds the recommendation made by planning officers who assessed these environmental considerations against London City Airport’s case for the proposal, which emphasised its economic benefits.”