It’s always a pertinent question when any major regional infrastructure change takes place. The impact on property values can vary according to how near you are to the build and opinions can contrast quite sharply depending on where you live. The Southend Airport Expansion is generally seen as good for business and most agree that will help energise the area, bringing in more traffic and, hopefully, larger investment. That could mean big businesses setting up home and providing plenty of jobs for the future.
But what about those who live on the flight path?
When the plans went through, the view was taken that a minority would have to suffer with the expansion. This turned out to be not quite the case as in 2011 protesters were still fighting against proposals to pull down the wall adjoining St Laurence and All Saints Church and divert traffic on Eastwoodbury Lane to accommodate the new runway. When claims for compensation began a couple of years later, no less than 1,000 residents sent them in concerning the increase in noise.
With passenger numbers increasing, it seems those closest to the airport are seeing the value of their homes decrease. House prices in the area have been fairly buoyant but values depress the closer you get to the runways. The airport has promised to compensate for any home that has suffered a loss because of air traffic expansion but these cases all have to be proven. And that could take time.
According to the protest group, Stop Airport Expansion, many home owners in the vicinity could see their property values come down several thousand pounds making it a big problem when they come to sell. It’s not just home owners and protesters who say that property prices have been severely affected – surveyors have said that people may need to drop their prices by as much as 10 to 15% to get a sale.
Some people are looking to sell their property at a loss and then use a solicitor to claim back the shortfall from the airport. The claims are moving slowly, however, as the airport waits for evidence about the real impact on house price levels in the area.
For those out of the immediate area of the airport, however, it’s an entirely different matter. Bringing in extra passengers and more investment is going to improve things further in places such as Leigh on Sea, Southend on Sea and Westcliffe, all benefiting from a rise in house prices. Southend has seen some of the biggest house price rises in the UK in recent years and, whilst it is not just entirely due to the airport extension, this is set to continue for some time to come.
The overriding opinion is that the Southend Airport expansion has been good for the region and should begin to show real benefits in the not too distant future with additional investment. For the small number who have been negatively affected by the project, the hope is that their compensation claims are treated sympathetically and the shortfall made up without too much delay.