The Wokingham Paper

Looking at large building projects



PARTNER Karen Jones, head of Blandy & Blandy Solicitors’ nationally recognised Planning & Environmental Law team, takes a look at the impact the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic could have on major infrastructure projects in and around the Thames Valley region.

Last year, we welcomed around 80 attendees to a Thames Valley Prop Social event, and hosted a panel discussion on major infrastructure projects on the horizon for the Thames Valley, including Crossrail and Heathrow’s third runway.

This January, we welcomed Giorgio Framalicco, deputy director of planning, transport & regulatory services at Reading Borough Council for a similar discussion focused on significant local developments including Station Hill and the new station at Green Park.

It is clear that the ongoing situation and the challenging economic climate will have an impact on these major infrastructure projects, which are all so important to our region, so what is the latest position?

Karen Jones
Karen Jones from Blandy & Blandy

Handling over 80 million passengers annually, Heathrow is Europe’s busiest airport. In 2019, the Airport dealt with a record number of passengers as demand continued to grow.

On 25 June 2018, the House of Commons voted 415-119 in favour of a third runway at Heathrow.

 However, in February this year the Court of Appeal ruled that the supporting Airports National Policy Statement of June 2018 was unlawful in a major blow to the Airport and its expansion plans.

On 6 May 2020, Heathrow’s Chief Executive John Holland-Kaye, reiterated that he believed that the Airport is a “critical economic plank for growth in the country” while outlining that a third runway may now not be needed for 10-15 years following the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic on the aviation industry.

On the previous day, only 187 flights left Heathrow, down from 1,338 (a fall of 86%) versus the same date last year.

Mr Holland-Kaye did confirm that Heathrow was continuing to pursue its appeal against the Court of Appeal’s recent decision.

Blandy & Blandy is ranked joint twelfth in a list of the top rated planning law firms in the UK, while Karen Jones is recognised among the top ten planning lawyers in the country. For more information, visit

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