Claims that a new town of 45,000 homes would be needed if a new runway at Gatwick Airport is built have been based on ‘selective’ use of research, the council says.
The Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC) has calculated housing numbers from research commissioned by Crawley Borough Council and West Sussex County Council (WSCC).
GACC chairman Brendon Sewill said: “This independent study, if correct, shows that a new runway would lead to widespread urbanisation, serious pressure on schools and hospitals, and the loss of much dearly-loved countryside.
“The more we find out, the more we doubt if the implications of the study were taken on board by members of the West Sussex County Council before they took their surprise decision in July to support a new runway.”
But the county council has said the research also shows benefits of expansion at Gatwick.
A spokesman for WSCC said: “GACC has been selective in its use of the research and the report also shows the potential benefits to the economy and jobs from growth at Gatwick. The research also looked at the impact on jobs and the economy were extra airport capacity to be sited elsewhere in the south east
“We would stress again that the support is in principle based on the potential benefits to the economy of West Sussex, business growth and jobs. We want to encourage a full debate, and accept there are environmental concerns.”
A spokesman for Crawley Borough Council said the issue of housing is more complex than GACC was portraying.
He said: “The primary aim of the research was to consider the employment impact of a second runway at Gatwick. It also touched on housing issues that could arise as a result of these jobs due to the importance of this issue when considering the impact of a second runway.
“However, the assessment of the demand for housing is a complex matter which needs to be the subject of much more specific assessment than was possible within the context of the employment study.
“Crawley Borough Council and other organisations are considering how the housing issue could be assessed in a lot more detail.”
The Airports Commission is currently considering evidence from around the country on airport capacity and it will publish its report in 2015.