14th July 2023

Proposed Terminal Extension – Stansted Airport

There have been some misleading recent reports in the local press about the proposed extension to the Stansted Airport terminal building. This is to clarify the position.

In 2003, Stansted Airport Ltd (‘STAL’) received planning approval to extend the existing terminal building by about 25%.  However, in the years that followed, passenger numbers increased far more slowly than STAL had expected.  In the 10 years to 2015, passenger numbers increased only slightly, from 22 million in 2005 to 22.5 million in 2015. The result was that the approved terminal extension was put on hold throughout this period.

After MAG acquired Stansted in 2013 passenger numbers returned to growth but MAG decided not to extend the terminal. Instead, in 2016, MAG applied for, and received, permission to build a new, standalone facility to handle all arrivals. This ‘Dedicated Arrivals Building’ was to be located between the main terminal building and the Radisson Hotel. Work was started in 2019 but was halted shortly afterwards, following the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, Stansted is now back on a growth trajectory and is expected to handle around 28 million passengers this year, very close to its pre-Covid total.   And, following the 2021 Public Inquiry, Stansted now has permission to handle up to 43 million passengers per annum (mppa) and this will need more terminal capacity.

After a lengthy review, MAG has reversed its earlier preference for a ‘Dedicated Arrivals Building’.  It will instead seek planning permission for an extension to the existing terminal, although not quite as previously envisaged.  MAG’s new proposal is to increase the depth of the terminal by adding three bays along its full length at the rear.  The original (2003) plan was to increase the width of the building.

The proposed extension will maintain the current Norman Foster design of the terminal and increase the floorspace by 25%-30%.  As part of the development the TTS (shuttle trains) will be replaced by moving walkways between the terminal and the satellites.

SAW has no objection in principle to the proposal.  Contrary to press reports, it will NOT generate 5,000 new jobs or £2 billion economic benefit.  These were benefits claimed by MAG for the expansion of Stansted to 43mppa.  Leaving aside the fact that these claims are greatly exaggerated, the STAL Chief Executive, has made clear[1] that these claims relate to growth to 43mppa, and not to the extension of the terminal, per se.

MAG is expected to submit its planning application by the end of this month and may well choose to submit this directly to the Planning Inspectorate rather than to UDC.


[1] STAL Press Release, 3 July 2023 – https://mediacentre.stanstedairport.com/plans-announced-to-extend-terminal-building/


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