News: 29 May 2018Southampton: An Airport City of the Future?

The findings of a research paper into Southampton’s viability as an “Airport City” were presented by Senior Planner Jen Samuelson and Planner Alice Drew, as they joined Europe’s leading lights at the European Council of Spatial Planners Young Planners Workshop in Paris. They were chosen to take part in the event after submitting a research proposal entitled Southampton: An Airport City of the Future?, which was reviewed and chosen by the Council to be developed further into a 13-page paper.

The paper explores how Southampton Airport currently integrates with the city and its surroundings, examining factors such as its transport links and the economic potential of the land around it. It also identifies the importance of schemes such as the proposed Chickenhall Lane Link Road, as well as the challenges that Southampton faces as a regional airport in its specific context, and how these could be overcome.

The event, held at Charles de Gaulle Airport, brought together planners from across Europe to discuss the opportunities and challenges faced in integrating airports more closely with the cities around them. Cities and airports which have seen substantial growth and profits, bringing economic, employment and social benefits to the people who live and work there, have been described as having achieved Airport City status.

Jen said: “It was a very interesting day and an exciting opportunity to share knowledge with peers from across Europe about how cities and airports can mutually benefit each other and grow together.

“This session was all about finding out more about how various countries address the challenges of airport cities - and how common many of those issues are.

“In some cases that were presented, such as the new airport under construction in Istanbul, there is the opportunity to build a truly integrated city and airport that work together seamlessly, bringing huge practical and economic benefits.

“However, in most cases we’re not able to start from scratch, so the challenges are around how we can create better relationships between existing airports and the surrounding cities and infrastructure to promote mutual growth.”

Alice added: “Our research specifically looked into the cultural and functional relationship between the airport and the city, and whether Southampton had the potential to become an Airport City.

“We found that while constraints around the Airport currently prevent the city achieving Airport City status, there is potential for technological advancements, such as off-site control towers to overcome such constraints by unlocking land. Such advancements are key to the future growth of regional airports.

“Furthermore, there is opportunity moving forward to understand whether a different model for regional Airport-City growth, grounded in spatial planning, would be better placed to unlock future potential.

“This is where collaboration and bigger thinking will be key to making sure that Southampton and similar regional airport cities can thrive and grow as international hubs.”


To request a copy of the full report, contact Jen Samuelson or Alice Drew.

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Southampton, Airport Cities, European Council of Spatial Planners Young Planners Workshop