Stansted Airport eyes expansion with new £130m arrivals building

At a time when London’s airport capacity is at a premium, Stansted is gearing up to accommodate record passenger numbers.

In April, the airport got the green light from Uttlesford District Council for a new £130m arrivals building.

It is now drawing up designs to begin construction in April or May next year of the 366,000 sq ft three-floor building (pictured), which will feature larger immigration and baggage reclaim areas, new retail facilities, improved access for onward travel and a public forecourt.

The new Pascall+Watson-designed building is due for completion in summer 2019 and will pave the way for the airport to upgrade the existing terminal. With more room available to improve the departures experience, it intends to increase the amount of space dedicated to check-in, security and the departure lounge.

Since Manchester Airport Group (MAG) acquired Stansted in 2013, it has been willing to spend significant sums to support the long-term growth of the airport.

“We currently handle 26 million to 27 million passengers a year and our terminal facilities are becoming constrained,” says Paul Willis, London Stansted Airport’s transformation director. “We want to maximise our single runway and to do that we need to improve our terminal facilities.”

We want to maximise our single runway and to do that we need to improve our terminal facilities - Paul Willis, London Stansted Airport

With additional terminal capacity, the airport hopes to boost annual passenger numbers to 35 million and absorb demand that cannot be met by other London airports.

“The situation with Heathrow impacts very positively on us,” says Willis. “The Davies Commission said the third runway at Heathrow could open in 2025, but we’re probably talking 2030. In the meantime, Stansted could benefit from London spillage.”

Stansted is preparing a planning application to raise its current planning cap of 35 million passengers to serve around 44 million passengers a year by 2035.

“We are working on a final environmental impact study before we submit for planning in January 2018,” says Willis. “We hope to get a decision in Q3 or Q4 next year.”

Increased economic impact

When asked about plans for a second runway, Willis responds: “Never say never.” In the meantime, he is keen to emphasise the role Stansted plays as an economic driver and claims that lifting the planning cap could see its economic impact increase from £1bn to £2bn.

Willis says expansion would provide an opportunity to develop more freight- and cargo-handling facilities. He also predicts that as the airport serves more global destinations there will be demand for a greater number of hotel rooms.

Philip Woolner, joint managing partner at Cambridgeshire agent Cheffins, says the positive effects will be wide-reaching. “Bishop’s Stortford, Great Dunmow and the M11 and A120 corridors will feel the impact most,” he says.

“Developers are already looking for sites around these areas.”

He also predicts that increased capacity will enhance the area’s investment credentials. “From an international business perspective, new flights to New York from Stansted in May along with further additional routes are incredibly attractive and ought to positively affect values across offices and business parks, as well as increasing demand on science parks in the region,” he says.

Airport expansion is never an easy thing but if Stansted’s plans for further development are given the go-ahead, it will be a boost for London and for Essex.

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