The debate regarding the placement of a new runway at one of the London airports in southeast England, though seemingly never ending (the consultation having begun more than 50 years ago), has at last reached some sort of decision. The expansion will take place at Heathrow: its outer west London site will be granted a third runway, the construction of which will necessitate the demolition of hundreds of historic homes, and essentially mean the end of communities such as the village of Harmondsworth, which stands to be one of the worst affected by the demolitions, and is a settlement attested to have existed for over 1000 years.
Such slow-moving, idyllic English villages are often seen, rightly or wrongly, as being intertwined with the heritage of the nation, or at least its rural areas. Rapid development over the past century (or centuries?)- ever-increasing in pace- has brought this symbolic Englishness and heritage into conflict with its urban, overbearing, formulaic counterpart; as is perfectly surmised in the Heathrow example, change and growth are almost by nature seen as good and worthy ideals to pursue; they are inevitable and therefore beyond questioning, especially if the protest is at such a small scale as a local group or resident.
Considering the drawn-out nature of the Heathrow consultation and project up until now, the demolition and new construction are definitely not set in stone, but the mere acceptance of the third runway at all, despite its human and heritage cost, shows just how quickly governments, societies, and businesses are willing to ignore vital and small scale developments in national culture and history (such as distinct local communities and identities), in favour of monolithic ideas like economic growth, which simply cannot be pursued and sustained indefinitely. It seems, then, that without proper safeguarding, many more unnoticed, local heritage sites, such as those bound up in the communities around Heathrow, will be gradually damaged and eventually lost, unless there is a sustained and concerted effort to manage both these heritages, and any nearby developments, side by side, without affording supremacy to either one. However, where business and the economy is involved, this seems sadly unlikely and difficult to achieve.