Old Leeds Bradford Airport terminal won't be demolished upon opening of new building, report claims

A new document has revealed Leeds Bradford Airport may not be able to demolish its old terminal building once a replacement is built, as it contains much of the site’s crucial infrastructure.

By Richard Beecham
Friday, 5th March 2021, 3:52 pm

As part of a Leeds City Council plans panel’s in-principle acceptance of the £150m rebuild last month, members wanted the ageing terminal building to be demolished as soon as possible once the new one was built.

But a document set to go before the panel next week claims the airport is unable to do this, as it currently contains the air traffic control tower, fire station and computer systems.

Leeds City Council planning officers say these are needed for the airport to maintain its aerodrome licence, but adds that the airport has committed to creating a “masterplan” to get rid of the site in the longer term.

Leeds Bradford Airport.

It also said the airport wanted to introduce extended flight times before the building of the new terminal was finished, despite the insistence of plans panel members to only allow extra flights once the new facility was built.

The report, set to go before the panel next Thursday, said: “The applicant has committed to all of the airport’s operations being net zero by the time the new terminal building is open to passengers. This net zero carbon commitment does already include the existing terminal building and the existing terminal building has been included in the calculations.

“The applicant wishes to redevelop the existing terminal as soon as practicable upon completion of the replacement terminal. The existing terminal will not be used by passengers which is restricted in the proposed (planning) agreement.

“The existing terminal building houses some of the Airports critical operations and will need to remain operational, as they are not included in the new terminal building and are integral in order for LBA to operate safely and maintain its aerodrome licence.”

It listed the airport’s air traffic control tower, fire station; and IT, communications, security, safety and mechanical infrastructure that would still serve the airport until such a masterplan was produced.

The airport’s management offices are also included in the terminal building, as well as Jet2’s staff offices.

It added that the airport would still be prepared to commit to the demolition of the check in Hall B, the Jet2 baggage hall and passenger handling facilities within six months of the new terminal’s opening – but this makes up only a fifth of the original terminal building.

It added: “The remainder of the building was constructed as a single building unit, making it difficult for partial demolition, whilst retaining the above operations, utilities and uses.

“However, in order to address any future concerns, the applicant has committed to work closely with the City Council on a master planning exercise regarding the existing terminal building and the surrounding part of LBA’s estate which may include a programme for the progressive de-commissioning and demolition for the remainder of the existing terminal.”

The airport also wants permission to increase flight times before the completion of the new terminal, despite councillors’ insistence that the new times only be introduced once it had been finished. Members of the panel had been concerned that granting extended flight times straight away could lead to the airport taking advantage of them without building the new eco-friendly terminal.

As part of the building plans, new flight time controls were included to extend the daytime flight period, as well as a likely increase from five to 17 flights between 6am and 7am.

The airport now appears to have offered a compromise to the council, agreeing to only introduce the new flight times one year into the two year building project.

The report stated: “The applicant recognise and respect members request that they do not wish for the new flight controls to be introduce without the guarantee of the delivery of the benefits of the new terminal.

“However, it is necessary for the flight regime to be introduced during the construction of the new terminal, given that the construction is expected to take 24 months and the airport needs to negotiate and confirm new route contracts in advance of opening.

“Developing and negotiating new routes is a complex process including evaluation of new routes, allocation of potential aircraft, marketing of routes and lead time for the new route to be marketed and on sale before it becomes operational. It is therefore important for the applicant to have some flexibility in the delivery of the new routes, as the replacement terminal is under construction.”

Council planning officers have recommended the proposals be accepted, provided the applicant was willing to fund off-site tree planting worth £30,000.

Members of the panel are set to discuss the report on Thursday, March 11.