31st January 2012
BAA commits to selling back houses
Twenty months after withdrawing its planning application for a second runway at Stansted Airport, BAA Chief Executive Colin Matthews has finally agreed that the company will sell back the entirety of its property portfolio around the airport, a total of 279 houses. This follows sustained pressure from Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) and local parish councils.
The commitment by BAA’s Chief Executive to sell all the houses it owns around Stansted Airport is a major shift in the company’s position. In March 2011, Mr Matthews declared that just some of the BAA-owned houses around the airport would be sold, whilst those which might one day be needed for a second runway would be retained.
It is also noteworthy that BAA is refusing to sell back the houses it owns around Heathrow on the grounds that they might one day be needed to make way for a third runway at Heathrow.
Most of the BAA-owned houses around Stansted were acquired over the past eight years in connection with its now-aborted plans for a second runway but some have been owned by BAA for over 30 years, having been acquired in connection with earlier attempts to expand the airport.
SSE Chairman Peter Sanders commented: “This is a landmark decision and very welcome. It will help remove the blight and uncertainty which has overshadowed this community for far too long. The sales process will of course need to be handled sensitively to protect the position of those tenants who may not be able to buy the homes they currently rent, and a few of those tenants have rented from BAA for many years.”
Peter Sanders continued: “It would be premature to view this as a sign that BAA has given up all hope of ever building a second runway at Stansted. But it is clearly a move in the right direction and we hope the Government will take note, especially since the Government is currently examining options for increasing London’s airport capacity.”
Peter Sanders concluded: “BAA must now turn this promise into action within a reasonable timescale. No-one wants to flood the market but do now expect to see a steady flow of these BAA-owned houses being put on the market at sensible prices.”
- The BAA commitment to sell the entirety of its property portfolio around Stansted Airport is contained in a letter from Colin Matthews to the Chairman of Stansted Airport Consultative Committee dated 5 January 2012. A copy is available from SSE upon request.