Expansion at Gatwick Airport would see the loss of two million square feet of business land.
The figure – which covers some 250 premises – was quoted to a meeting of business leaders at the Gatwick Diamond Economic Growth Forum on Thursday (June 5).
Chief executive Stewart Wingate said airport representatives would be meeting with businesses within the next couple of weeks to work out what would need to be done regarding relocation and compensation.
If Gatwick was to be chosen for expansion, the airport boundary would stretch south almost to Fleming Way, engulfing Lowfield Heath, part of Tinsley Green and a large part of the A23.
Mr Wingate said: “We will start to work through so we can get a better level of knowledge and understanding as to what the requirements are, what the alternatives are and what can be done. It can be taken as read we must compensate but also look to re-provide or re-accommodate those businesses.”
When asked to where the businesses could be moved, he said the options would either be in the expanded airport or elsewhere in the borough, though he did not specify where.
Jeremy Taylor, chief executive of Gatwick Diamond Business, said: “It is important that the businesses are fully engaged and Stewart’s announcement of a charter and dedicated staff to work with those businesses is very welcome.”
The forum was held at the Arora Hotel, Southgate Avenue, and attended by 150 business leaders from across the Gatwick Diamond.
The forum was packed with people largely supportive of expansion at Gatwick, and they were warned the airport would face a ‘brain drain’ of young talent taking their skills elsewhere if the problem of housing capacity in the area was not addressed.
Martin Heffer, of Coast to Capital, said: “We are at constant risk of losing our young talent from this area because of the cost and availability of homes. We need to look into this or we will suffer a lost generation who simply can’t afford to live here.”