A project to build an underground warehouse near Heathrow airport has taken a major step forward after planning chiefs gave the scheme the go-ahead.
Councillors at Hounslow Council unanimously approved the plans, which include creating a warehouse of up to 177,500 sq m, using excavated material to create a public park above it at Rectory Farm.
Work is expected to start in 2019 with underground space becoming available from 2022 as the builders use a method known as “top down construction”.
The project’s backer, Formal Investments, said the site lay above one of the country’s largest remaining deposits of high-quality gravel, an important construction material used as an aggregate mix for concrete and asphalt.
“Transforming the derelict site into a public park requires a reliable and continuous stream of funding,” said the Rectory Farm website.
“Letting the proposed subterranean warehouse space will assure that the park is developed and maintained in perpetuity.”
It added that the extraction and construction will attract new economic development to the area and provide up to 2,500 new jobs – including roles in the park’s delivery, management and maintenance.
Formal Investments director Nicholas King said: “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 while enhancing the surface environment could inspire similar approaches elsewhere.”
Gordon Scorer, CEO of London Wildlife Trust, said that when done correctly major developments such as Rectory Farm could benefit wildlife and nature as well as residents, creating greener, healthier spaces within the capital.
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