Advisor to mayor Boris Johnson argues that a high speed rail “constellation hub” linking existing UK airports is the answer

Sir Terry Farrell has slammed plans by fellow big name architect Lord Foster for a new airport in the Thames Estuary.

Making a keynote speech today at economic development conference Place West London, Farrell – who is an advisor to London mayor Boris Johnson – argued that a “constellation hub” linking five existing airports by high speed rail would be a more cost-effective and sustainable infrastructure choice.

Foster’s prelimary plans – unveiled in the summer and drawn up by his practice Foster + Partners and Halcrow – span the next 50 years and revolve around a 150m passenger airport in the estuary to replace Heathrow.

But Farrell, whose firm Farrells has been commissioned by Hammersmith and Fulham council to examine the potential for developing an area in the borough where the Crossrail and High Speed 2 rail links would meet, suggested Fosters’ scheme would likely become obsolete in as little as 20 years.

He said: “Old Oak Common, where Crossrail and HS2 will connect, will properly link five of the nation’s major airports to the high speed rail network for the first time. Heathrow will be just 11 minutes away and four other airports (Birmingham, Luton, Stansted and City Airport) will be within half an hour. High speed connections to Birmingham also give the option for an additional runway there in the future.

“We need to adopt the latest thinking on air-side rail travel to make sure the previously complex logistical and baggage transfer issues are no longer a barrier. It is by far the most cost-effective and sustainable solution for air travel. If we build a brand new £50bn airport to meet today’s demands then what will we do after 20 years of exponential growth. Build another one?”