Monday, 26 January 2015

The Impact On Housing Of A Gatwick Second Runway

In my first Crawley Observer column of the year, I wrote about the huge increase in local house prices over the last year and how a second runway at Gatwick would turn a local housing problem into a local housing crisis in Crawley and the wider area. 
"I was interested to see it reported that outside of London, the last year has seen house prices grow faster in Crawley than anywhere else in the UK. The very high 22% figure quoted is a double-edged sword and unsustainable.
While it is good to see the economy doing so well, we know there is a supply and demand problem with the population growing faster than new house building can keep up. It is a struggle to stop home ownership becoming increasingly out of reach for many, although the Government’s help to buy scheme has helped many young couples buy their own home and new homes are being built.

We have a housing problem but I am keen to ensure a local housing problem does not turn into a housing crisis. Unfortunately, that is exactly what will happen if Gatwick has a second runway. I sometimes hear a simplistic view that a second runway will be good for Crawley because it will provide jobs for local people who need them. Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth.

It is true that a second runway will see tens of thousands of new jobs in the area. However, with low levels of unemployment in the Crawley travel to work area being the long-term historical norm, it is obvious that huge numbers of people will have to move to the area from the UK and abroad, over and above the existing year-on-year population growth, to fill jobs that cannot be filled locally.

When we are struggling to keep up with the current housing demand, it is clear that a second runway will make this problem much worse. There would be an explosion of houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) as prices become ever more unaffordable. This overcrowding and congestion in our local streets and neighbourhoods will negatively change Crawley for ever in so many ways. Residents who may live in quiet streets where parking and traffic currently isn’t a problem, do need to be aware that a second runway will have an irreversible and negative impact on our quality of life in Crawley."

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