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You are here: London Borough of Bromley > Interactive Unitary Development Plan > Written Statement - 12. BIGGIN HILL AIRPORT AND ENVIRONS




  1. To strike a balance between recognising the social and economic benefits of the Airport and the adjoining Business Area and minimising the environmental impacts, particularly those related to the Green Belt, noise, surface access and the amenities of those affected by airport operations
  2. To recognise the contribution made by the Airport and adjoining Business Area to the local and regional economy and provide limited diversification of business uses, subject to the overriding requirement of airport-related needs and operational safety
  3. To recognise the role of Biggin Hill Airport as an airport providing facilities for business aviation, flight training and private flying and other airport and aviation-related uses

12.1 Biggin Hill Airport has existed since 1917 and the Council has owned the freehold since 1974 when it was purchased from the Ministry of Defence. The Council's declared purpose in purchasing the Airport was, amongst other things, to continue to protect the environment of the area to the greatest practicable extent compatible with the presence of a long-established airport. The Airport covers some 195 hectares, mainly within the Green Belt.


12.2 The 2003 Government White Paper: “The Future of Air Transport” replaces earlier guidance set out in the 1985 White Paper: “Airports Policy”. It recognises the importance of air travel to national and regional economic prosperity but it also accepts the necessity to balance the need for more airport capacity against the environmental impacts of air travel. It states that the Government is committed to making the best use of existing airports and notes that smaller airports, including Biggin Hill, should not be overlooked and could have a role to play in the future capacity of the South East in meeting local demand and contributing to regional development. Nevertheless, the Government notes that any development must be subject to environmental considerations. In particular, measures should be taken to reduce and mitigate the impacts of air transport and airport development on those affected, as well as on the natural environment.

12.3 Whilst making no mention specifically of Biggin Hill Airport, the London Plan supports the development of a sustainable and balanced London area airport system. The Air Transport White Paper of 2003 sets out a strategic framework, and the main implications for London will be addressed in the context of the review of the London Plan.

12.4 PPG2 contains policy guidance on development within existing ‘Major Developed Sites’ (MDS) in the Green Belt. The extent to which this guidance applies to the Airport is set out in the appropriate policies.


12.5 In 1994, the Council entered into a 125-year lease of the Airport to Biggin Hill Airport Ltd (BHAL). The Lease requires BHAL to manage the Airport in accordance with certain obligations and controls on the operation and development of the Airport and business (see paragraph 12.9 for the main operating criteria). The lease and operational obligations include:

(i) compliance with the user clause – as an airport providing facilities for business aviation, flight training and private flying and other airport and aviation related uses;
(ii) maintenance of the Airport in accordance with the principle of good estate management;
(iii) ensuring the safe, efficient and economic operation of the Airport;
(iv) restrictions on the hours of operation, both weekdays and weekends;
(v) restrictions on the number of aircraft movement to 125,000 per annum;
(vi) allowing only aircraft that meet a defined set of noise criteria.

12.6 The Airport and adjoining business area are a major asset to the Borough and are direct and indirect generators of employment. The economic benefits, however, have to be balanced against the environmental consequences of airport operations.

12.7 The Airport also benefits from permitted development rights under Schedule 2, Part 18 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995. In January 2001, the Secretary of State confirmed an Article 4 Direction relating to land in the Green Belt between the control tower and the adjacent Conservation Area of the former RAF quarters. The Direction removes permitted development rights, thereby requiring planning permission to be sought for any subsequent proposals in this area. The Council will assess any proposals under permitted development on the need for an Environmental Impact Assessment and in light of the voluntary consultation agreement between BHAL and the Council.


12.8 The UDP sets out detailed land use policies for the Airport and the surrounding area, taking account of:

(i) the Airport's location mainly within the Green Belt and adjoining Site of Interest for Nature Conservation, Tree Preservation Orders and the proposed World Heritage Site;
(ii) Government Airports Policy;
(iii) the operational arrangements and other requirements, set down in the lease to BHAL;
(iv) limited infilling and redevelopment in the identified MDS leading to improvements in its appearance and facilities and balancing this with environmental factors, such as air quality and noise;
(v) the designation of Public Safety Zones and safeguarding area;
(vi) the future of the former RAF West Camp and Married Quarters;
(vii) the preservation or enhancement of the character and appearance of RAF Biggin Hill Conservation Area;
(viii) the enablement of a Heritage Centre;
(ix) transport proposals identified in the Local Implementation Plan; and
(x) the need to minimise surface access journeys.

See also: Policies NE1, NE2, NE3, NE6, NE8 and BE11




When considering all development proposals at, or relating to, Biggin Hill Airport, the Council will seek to the maximum possible extent to protect the amenities of those affected by airport operations, and to ensure that harm and disturbance to the environment generally is minimised.

12.9 Concern for the amenities of those affected by airport operations and for the local environment places limitations on the use of the Airport. Strict controls are in operation, which govern the opening hours, the number of annual movements by fixed and rotary winged aircraft, and the maximum noise levels of aircraft, which in turn determines the types and models of aircraft, including helicopters, that can use the Airport. The controls have been incorporated into the lease to BHAL and may not be changed unless by mutual consent. Proposals which, in the Council’s opinion, are likely to have significant effect on the environment will be required to be accompanied by an Environmental Impact Assessment, in accordance with the EIA Regulations 1999.

See also: Policy BH8




The Council will expect new development requiring planning permission to be located either:

(i) in the area South of Runway 11/29 (South Camp); or
(ii) within Areas 1, 2 or 3 of the Major Developed Site (MDS) as identified on Map BH1.

Within Areas 1, 2, and 3 of the MDS limited infilling or redevelopment will be considered appropriate providing that it accords with PPG2, in particular the relevant criteria set out in Annex C.

12.10 The main areas of existing development comprise 11 hectares on the southern side of the Airport, outside the Green Belt (South Camp), the passenger terminal area, East Camp, and the former RAF West Camp. A rationalisation of aviation facilities in the main built-up area south of runway 11/29 and within part of the area identified as a MDS will provide for buildings and uses consistent with the overall use of the Airport, while ensuring that no further encroachment takes place into the Green Belt. This approach also seeks to improve and enhance the appearance and environment of the Airport and protect the overall openness of the Green Belt. The MDS has been specifically identified in accordance with advice in PPG2. The site remains subject to the normal development control policies for Green Belts. Within the MDS, infilling or redevelopment that meets the criteria in Annex C to PPG2 is not inappropriate development. In this context, infilling means the filling of small gaps between built development.

12.11 The Biggin Hill MDS comprises three areas of land, as identified on Map BH1, namely:

Area 1 – Passenger Terminal/Control Tower and West Camp
Area 2 – Former RAF Married Quarters
Area 3 – East Camp

Specific policies apply to each of these areas.

12.12 In respect of West Camp within Area 1, and in Area 2, the Council has resolved to grant planning permission, subject to the completion of a legal agreement in respect of parts of each of these Areas, which would lead to an acceptable level of development. Should any of these planning applications not proceed, the Council will prepare a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) as appropriate, to indicate how infilling or re-development can best be carried out and to safeguard the visual amenity of the Green Belt. Issues of siting, materials, design, tree planting and protection and landscaping will be included. Liaison with owners and potential developers of land at, and adjacent to, the Airport will identify when such circumstances are likely to occur.

See also: Policies G1, BE11 and BE12




Within the area indicated on the Proposals Map to the south of Runway 11/29, development will be restricted to airport-related uses. Proposals for other land uses will not normally be permitted unless the applicant can demonstrate a lack of market demand for airport-related uses, or unsuitability for operational purposes leading to long-term vacancy. In such circumstances, the Council may be prepared to consider favourably proposals for business uses B1 and B8 of the Use Classes Order 1987 (as amended).

12.13 The Council recognises the significance of this area in providing the primary location for airport-related facilities and activities, including hangars, aircraft maintenance, aircraft parking and flying club facilities. It also has potential for airport business and executive uses, including the provision of a hotel/restaurant facility. For such activities, the relationship to the airport- related business should be explicitly justified and be of an appropriate scale. Some scope for land use flexibility is allowed, however, in circumstances where airport-related demand or other operational considerations demonstrate that it is not possible to use the land for airport-related uses.



Development within Area 1 will be restricted to airport-related uses. Within West Camp, proposals for development will be required to:

(i) form part of a comprehensively planned development for the site;
(ii) retain the open ‘campus’ nature of the site;
(iii) facilitate the integration of the western taxiway into the Airport’s operational control; and
(iv) preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the RAF Biggin Hill Conservation Area.

Proposals for other land uses in West Camp will be considered only where it can be demonstrated that a lack of demand for airport-related uses would lead to a long term vacancy of the buildings, or where the use would contribute to the conservation and historic interest of the area.

12.14 The control tower and terminal building are the focus for passenger and goods handling and other ancillary facilities, including distribution services, administrative offices, short and long-stay parking for cars, coaches and aircraft. Planning permission exists for a 50-bedroom hotel and restaurant on adjacent land. Proposals affecting land covered by the Article 4 Direction will be considered in the context of the particular circumstances and planning history of the site.

12.15 The privately owned West Camp comprises a range of former RAF buildings set in a campus-style layout, a large part of which falls within RAF Biggin Hill Conservation Area. Although not forming part of the operational Airport, the Council wishes to ensure a continuation of the long-term relationship between this area and the Airport. West Camp has airside access and is an appropriate destination for airport-related development proposals. The Council recognises however that a flexible approach, allowing some provision for non-airport-related uses, is likely to be required to achieve satisfactory comprehensive development in the Green Belt in accordance with the criteria of Annex C of PPG2, and to secure the stewardship of buildings within the Conservation Area.



Within Area 2 only the following development proposals will be suitable:

(i) demolition of vacant buildings and replacement with residential development with a similar or smaller footprint, providing that the overall open nature of the site is maintained;
(ii) limited residential infilling on vacant war-damaged plots within the existing residential area;
(iii) those which preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the RAF Biggin Hill Conservation Area.

Existing trees are to be retained wherever possible or replaced if the development cannot proceed without the loss of trees.

12.16 This area is not part of the operational Airport, but comprises several large-scale vacant former military buildings and residential properties situated within an open landscaped environment. The Council will consider favourably the demolition of obsolete vacant buildings and their replacement with limited residential infilling. Proposals should also retain and enhance the shared landscaped areas and have less visual impact on the openness of the Green Belt than existing development. Development should be in accordance with the criteria set out in PPG2 Annex C. The Council is also promoting the provision of a Heritage Centre within the area.

See also: Policies G4, G5, BE11, BE12 and BE14




Infilling or redevelopment proposals on Area 3 will be restricted to airport and aviation-related uses and will only be considered appropriate where the proportion of developed to undeveloped land is such that the site retains its essentially open character.

12.17 In view of the location of East Camp away from any built-up area, only development limited to the replacement of existing substandard facilities, small-scale extensions and appropriate infilling will be considered appropriate, in accordance with the criteria set out in PPG2 Annex C. This location is not considered appropriate for non aviation-related development, but could be used for replacement or relocated flying club buildings, aircraft parking and maintenance, and similar aviation facilities.



The Council will not grant planning permission for development likely to interfere with the safe and efficient operation of the Airport or Technical Site, in accordance with the DfT Circular 1/2003, having particular regard to the safeguarded area, as shown on the Proposals Map. Within the Public Safety Zones, also shown on the Proposals Map, there will be a general presumption against most kinds of new development and against certain changes of use and extensions to existing properties, as described in DfT Circular 1/2002.

12.18 Public Safety Zones (PSZs) are areas of land extending outwards from the ends of the main runway where development is restricted. They are shown on the Proposals Map. The basic policy objective governing the restriction on development is that there should be no increase in the number of people living, working or congregating in the PSZ. The Department for Transport Circular 1/2002: “Control of Development in Airport Public Safety Zones” contains specific guidance to enable the Council to determine applications affecting land within PSZs.

12.19 A wider area around the Airport is safeguarded under Department for Transport Circular 1/2003: “Safeguarded Aerodromes, Technical Sites and Military Explosives Storage Areas: The Town and Country Planning (Safeguarded Aerodromes, Technical Sites and Military Explosives Storage Areas) Direction 2002”. The circular requires the outer boundary of the airport safeguarding area to be shown on the Proposals Map and requires that certain planning applications will be subject of special consultation procedures to ensure that buildings, structures, or other works do not inhibit the operation and development of the Airport.

See also: Airport Safeguarding Map and Policy BE21




In considering planning applications for new noise-sensitive development at, or in the vicinity of, Biggin Hill Airport, the Council will apply the recognised Noise Exposure Categories (NECs), set out in PPG24, in respect of Airborne noise, when assessing the acceptability of the proposal.

12.20 Aircraft noise can affect areas and noise-sensitive development under the flight path for some distance from the Airport. The degree of disturbance is related to people’s perception of noise, the volume and character of noise, the frequency of aircraft movements and the ambient background noise. PPG24 recommends that greater emphasis be given to noise from aircraft as a material consideration in determining planning applications because of its potentially adverse effects on health and local amenity. This is likely to restrict the location of certain noise-sensitive uses, such as housing.

12.21 To complement the UDP and to establish a noise envelope associated with the Airport, the Council commissioned a study of the noise environment around Biggin Hill Airport. The Airborne aircraft noise contours, as shown on the Proposals Map will be used to determine the Noise Exposure Category (as defined in PPG24) within which any proposed noise-sensitive development site falls, until the year 2010.

See also: Policy ER8 and Aircraft Noise Study (1999)


Biggin Hill Major Developed Site map (PDF, 0.12MB)


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