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In advance of the planned third runway expected to open by 2026, London Heathrow Airport (LHR) has unveiled a long-term masterplan to expand the airport to cope with the increased flights the third runway will bring.

This plan, which has already been approved by the British parliament, is expected to be complete by 2050. A new runway bridge will be built over the M25 motorway which will provide spectacular views of the world’s biggest aircraft at Europe’s busiest airport while motorists drive underneath. It presents significant engineering and design challenges given the weight of these fully-laden planes. The M25, which is Britain’s busiest motorway, will move up to 150 metres west to accommodate the third runway.

Terminals 2 (Star Alliance) and 5 (British Airways and Iberia) will be extended in a ‘toaster rack’ design with central check-in areas followed by many rows of piers of gates. There will also be an enormous new 24,000 capacity carpark in the Sipson town area.

Heathrow Expansion Masterplan. Photo by Grimshaw Architects

The frustrating curfew will remain, with a 6.5 hour ban on scheduled flights each evening. The masterplan sees the introduction of a vehicle access charge for the airport precinct, as already introduced in Central London.

The plan is now under a three months public consultation. Heathrow Airport insists that the expansion “must not come at any cost,” so they will work closely with local communities to ensure growth is sustainable and responsible. There are plenty who are opposed to the expansion, from local residents to environmentalists. Boris Johnson, the current front-runner to become the next Prime Minister, was a vocal opponent of the airport’s expansion though he has now signaled that he will not oppose the plans given they have already been approved by Parliament.

Image by Grimshaw Architects.

The expansion costs are estimated by Heathrow airport to cost £14 billion in total, although opponents say this figure will be closer to £30 billion.

Featured image by Grimshaw Architects.

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