London City Airport submitted a planning application to the London Borough of Newham for a £344 million development that would allow the airport to develop new buildings and infrastructure. The airport was concerned that, even if approved by the council, the Mayor of London might call in the application as part of his campaign for a new Thames Estuary Airport, preventing the development from taking place.
PLMR implemented a strategy of targeted engagement with senior decision makers at City Hall, helped the airport assemble a powerful coalition of business supporters, hone its messaging, and build support amongst national policy makers. PLMR also advised London City Airport to conduct detailed polling of Newham residents and London businesses which revealed high levels of support for the airport. Despite persuading both the Planning Committee of the London Borough of Newham (who voted to approve the application) and City Hall planners (who recommended that Mayor of London Boris Johnson should do likewise), the Mayor rejected the application out of hand.
PLMR then worked with LCY to develop a more wide-ranging public affairs campaign to bolster the airport’s case at appeal and ultimately persuade senior cabinet ministers – who would now make the final decision – of the merits of expansion. This involved mobilising support not just amongst Conservative MPs and ministers in other departments, but also MPs from Northern Ireland (where the future of hundreds of aviation jobs rested on the decision) and Scotland (reliant on LCY for air links to London).
The coalition of London businesses rallied behind London City Airport’s expansion plans, and helped make the case to the Chancellor, the Mayor of London and the Mayor of Newham that the development of the airport was central to London maintaining its position as a leading centre for global business. The pressure from businesses leaders ensured that London City Airport’s importance to the London economy was recognised and that key decision makers were increasingly supportive of the airport’s development plans.
London City Airport secured permission to expand from the Government in July 2016. This will create 2,000 jobs and see the airport’s contribution to the UK economy grow to £1.5bn a year by 2023.