Spurs urges council to back stalled Stansted airport expansion plans
PUBLISHED: 11:16 26 November 2019 | UPDATED: 11:34 26 November 2019
A major Premiership football team has thrown its weight behind controversial plans to expand Stansted airport.
Tottenham Hotspur - currently standing 10th in the Premier League and about to face Greek side Olympiakos in the Champions League under new manager José Mourinho - argues that the airport plays a key role in taking its fans to European matches.
"For many years we have enjoyed a very productive partnership with the airport - away fans travelling to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for European matches take advantage of its unparalleled connectivity," it said.
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"The club and its followers frequently use its facilities to fly abroad, and many of Stansted's 12,000 staff are also valuable supporters of ours."
In a letter to planners, the north London club's executive director Donna-Maria Cullen urged Uttlesford District Councillors to support the airport's plan to raise its current ceiling on passenger numbers to 43m and allow it to grow.
The move would "super-charge the economic corridor between Thaxted and Tottenham, delivering millions of pounds of further investment into the area and create 5,000 on-airport jobs and many thousands more in the wider community", she said.
The airport and the club shared a number of goals, she said, including fostering productive partnerships with the communities in which they operate, a willingness to develop people in their careers, and an ambition to deliver "iconic infrastructure". They also both employed several thousands of local people.
"A healthy and growing Stansted is important for connecting local communities and driving the local economies of several areas," she argued.
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The club hoped the improvements planned at the airport would lead to more long-haul destinations being added which it and local residents could benefit from. A flourishing airport was "the best catalyst" for improving the service on the West Anglian Mainline, she added.
The plans were given the green light by the previous Conservative administration at Uttlesford - which was ousted in the May 2019 elections - but there were still formal hurdles to overcome. The new incumbents - Residents4Uttlesford - decided to revisit the mitigation elements of the plans - known as the Section 106 element - at a meeting in July and sent it back to the planning committee for that purpose.
The new administration has been heavily criticised for the delay, and it was thought the matter would be resolved in November, but it has now been pushed back until after the general election in December.
A council spokesman said: "It is not practical to take this back to the planning committee before January for a number of reasons, including the general election."
Meanwhile, a separate campaign group - Stop Stansted Expansion - took the case to judicial review where it argued in the high court that the proposals should have been considered at national level rather than being delegated to the council. The judge's decision on that case - which was heard in mid-November - has yet to be published.
An airport spokesman said the expansion would be delivered without increasing the number of flights already permitted, and within a smaller noise footprint than currently agreed.
"As part of, and since our application was approved by Uttlesford District Council's (UDC) planning committee in November 2018, UDC have taken extensive legal advice and our understanding is that it confirms there is no reason for the council to withhold the permission they resolved to grant," he said.