BAA Stansted defends its position over second runway homes

AIRPORT owner BAA has vowed to “review and update” its housing disposal strategy following a string of requests that it should sell back homes to communities.

The industry giant scrapped its immediate ambitions to build a second runway in May and since then homes purchased during the build up to the application can be returned to the public.

However BAA has been criticised for not doing enough. And it is not just the adults that are unhappy.

Uttlesford liberal democrats supported calls for the coalition government to ask BAA to sell back its “second runway” houses despite it being a private business matter.

Councillor Alan Dean introduced 13-year-old Saffron Walden liberal youth Ben Westlake-Jones who told delegates at a conference that his family were forced to sell their home in Takeley to BAA in 2005, because nobody else wanted to buy it.

Cllr Dean said: “There has been a great loss of community spirit in these villages, through residents selling up and leaving. BAA has a responsibility to restore the communities that have been blighted by its runway plan”.

Uttlesford Liberal Democrat group leader Peter Wilcock added: “Although it is a private company, BAA has compulsory purchase powers similar to the government.

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“Now that its second runway plans have been scuppered, it should do the decent thing and offer to sell back the houses it bought in villages around the airport”.

However, BAA has defended its position and spokesman Melvyn Nice reiterated that since 2007 Stansted has been selling, where possible, properties acquired through the blight scheme but not required in the second runway project.

He added: “Following the withdrawal of the planning application in late May 2010, we are reviewing and updating, where necessary, this managed disposal strategy.

“To help protect the functionality of the local property market, and to avoid any possible distortion, we will not go into the precise details of the disposal strategy.

“We are more than happy though to discuss with anyone the possibility of buying a property acquired for G2, including, of course, previous owners.

“However, to date, we have yet to receive any approaches from previous occupiers wishing to buy back a property”.

Stansted spends hundreds of thousands of pounds each year repairing and maintaining properties and large majority are let and occupied.

The company seems to have support from the Government as well after transport secretary Theresa Villiers told Uttlesford MP Sir Alan Haselhurst last week: “BAA purchased properties in the vicinity of Stansted airport as part of a non-statutory Home Owners Support Scheme to protect home owners from the effects of blight and allow them to sell homes and move away in advance of any potential second runway.

“The arrangements were entered into on a voluntarily basis between home owners and BAA. Any disposal of these properties is a matter for the airport operator”.

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