In a step forward for a cargo warehousing project near to Heathrow Airport, the local authority has approved the plans.
The project’s backer, Formal Investments, describes the project as ‘visionary’. It will see an underground warehouse, with a public park constructed above ground. This park represents the largest new park area in West London for more than a century, and will be constructed using the minerals extracted from beneath the land, which is currently not in use.
Major link to Heathrow
Situated alongside the A4 (Bath Road), which is also a major road link to Heathrow Airport, the site (known as Rectory Farm) will house up to 177,500 square metres of subterranean warehousing space.
After work begins in 2019, the first area of the park should open sometime in 2020, and the warehouse space will be available for use from 2022. In total, there will be a 15-year period of mineral extraction, construction and landscaping to complete the project in its entirety.
Cargo operation expansion
Ignazio Coraci explains: “It’s extremely likely that Heathrow Airport will utilise a fair amount of the warehousing space in order to expand its cargo operation. If the third runway goes ahead then Heathrow will be able to expand much further with resources like Rectory Farm available.
“There is a lack of industrial storage space near the airport, and this development is a pioneering project that will provide a much-needed urban logistics resource.”
Football pitches, parkland and public space will be constructed above the warehouse, to maximise the use of the land. Adds the director of Formal Investments, Nicholas King: “It is hugely exciting to know these ambitious and visionary plans, overwhelmingly supported by local residents, have taken a massive step towards going ahead.
“With increasing worldwide demand for warehousing space close to and within cities, we believe Rectory Farm’s creative solution of putting such infrastructure underground whilst enhancing the surface environment could inspire similar approaches elsewhere.”
Innovative use of space
The innovative underground approach of Rectory Farm’s warehousing is a pioneering design that aims to fully utilise the urban environment. It’s a model that is in use in other parts of the world and will be the largest development of its kind within the M25.
Alongside the news of the approval of this storage space, there has been an alternative development submitted to construct a third runway at Heathrow Airport. The plan has been put forward by the hotel group Arora, which state that it is projected to save up to £6.7 billion on the current proposal. The existing proposal is now under public consultation after being approved by the government in 2016.
Whether or not the third runway does go ahead, the development of Rectory Farm will provide Heathrow Airport with more scope to expand cargo air freight over the next decade.