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Councils asked to bid for Heathrow offsite hubs


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.

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