Councils and business leaders across the UK are to fight for one of four Heathrow expansion offsite construction hubs in their area, representing a shift in major project conventions.
In a bid to boost the construction industry outside London by up to £15bn, Heathrow Airport has asked communities to make their case for hosting one of the construction hubs by the end of July. The announcement comes after a new position was created at Heathrow dedicated to local community engagement.
Components needed for expansion will be constructed offsite before being transported to the airport in bulk, in a move Heathrow hopes will make the project greener and more cost effective.
“The global construction industry is set to be worth £15tn by 2025 – that’s a huge prize that Britain deserves a bigger share of and Heathrow can help,” said Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye.
“We want to use Heathrow expansion to not only upgrade Britain’s infrastructure, but cultivate a new world-leading sector and drive growth across the whole country. Boosting off-site construction will help make expansion more affordable and environmentally friendly and give Britain a lasting legacy of expertise that it can sell around the world – helping Britain lead the pack in global construction.”
Although offsite construction is used in home building schemes, until now it has been rare in major infrastructure projects.
A deal with the Scottish government means one hub will be located in Scotland, but the other three hubs could be set anywhere in the UK. Suitable areas should have a strong local supply chain and good connectivity, as well as a pool of local skills. A list of potential areas will be published later this year.
Heathrow is hosting a series of speed dating-style business summits across the UK to helps SMEs secure work on its expansion programme.
A government consultation on Heathrow expansion is taking place until 25 May, after which the airport will be hosting its own public consultation starting late this summer.