Sian Berry pledges to transform site of City Airport into vision for new economy


Sian Berry has today announced new plans for redeveloping the site of City Airport if elected Mayor, closing the airport and instead creating a new quarter at the heart of a transformed economy for London.

The new plans will be developed from the bottom up by the local community, listening to workers currently employed by City Airport and young Londoners from across the city, and working with the current owners of the airport to make better use of their land.

The area will transform itself from an economic hub based around aviation to one based around a new community with housing, green space and zero carbon transport, backed up by green jobs and digital connectivity.

Today Sian Berry is announcing that, as Green Mayor, she will transform the current Royal Docks Enterprise Zone into a new Mayoral Development Corporation area that includes the airport itself. The goals of the new Royal Docks MDC will be to plan a new community for the area, based on a green, post-airport future, and the need for a secure, green recovery from the pandemic.

Sian says:

“We need real leadership in this recovery from the next Mayor, and my mission to transform the economy requires bold ideas like this. I will work from the ground up with local Londoners to turn the site of City Airport and the whole Royal Docks area into a pillar of the green recovery our city is crying out for.

“Greens have successfully pushed the current Mayor to declare a climate emergency, but we’ve had to push him every day over his support for City Airport and Gatwick expansion. Only a real Green Mayor will show the right ambition and take the action Londoners need to see.

“I hope the airport owners, which include pension funds, will see the wisdom and the timeliness of making these plans now. With the local community, we can put this land to use in building a secure future, with forward-thinking new businesses, green jobs paying a real living wage, homes at genuinely affordable rents and a less noisy and polluted environment for everyone.”

In 2016, Sian was also the Green candidate for Mayor and put forward ideas for the airport site itself. This new plan goes further, bringing in the wider area being developed through the Enterprize Zone. Currently the presence of the airport restricts the kinds of development that can take place in the Royal Docks, due to the airport ‘crash zone’ being out of bounds to residential development.

The Crystal Building, into which the Mayor and Assembly will move this year, lies just outside this zone, and would also be included in the MDC area.

Greens have led the opposition to airport expansion in the Assembly, pushing the current Mayor not just to oppose Heathrow Airport’s third runway but also holding him to account over his support for City Airport and Gatwick expansion.

City Airport is owned by a consortium including the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, and had been undergoing a planned £500 million expansion but, in August 2020, it was announced that further work has been postponed indefinitely owing to a collapse in passenger numbers throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

In 2019, 27 percent of flights taken from City Airport were to UK mainland locations with which London has a direct train link, such as Edinburgh and Glasgow. In the face of the climate emergency, an airport with such a reliance on domestic flights is not sustainable, and France has taken steps to eradicate flights which could be taken by train.