Designed by Rogers, Stirk, Harbour & Partners in a £4.2 billion pounds terminal 5 scheme. After many years of bitter debate and wrangling and a 46 months long public enquiry the final go ahead for the scheme was given on 20th November 2001 by the Secretary of State Stephen Byers. Those opposed to the scheme included 95% of the parties involved in the enquiry and 13 local authorities and the enquiry finally came to an end on 17th March 1999 after costing some £80 million pounds. BAA paid £64 million pounds of this the rest was paid by the tax payer at local and state level.
One bright side to the enquiry was it gave time for archaeologists from Wessex Archaeology and also from Oxford Archaeology unit to take part on the biggest excavation work ever in the UK on the terminal 5 project area. During there work they found a long history of artefacts from the site as well as being able to trace the history of the area and its use during the various ages. Indeed items were found from as far back as the Middle Stone Age,  New Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Ages. It was during this work that the history of Heathrow as a Druid 'spiritual runway' over 5,000 year ago was uncovered. A 2.5 mile long 23 ft wide section strip of land, raised 6 foot high and banked by ditches was uncovered.
Cynics will say the actual final decision was never in doubt and the time taken to get to the final go ahead ridiculously long. The scheme had first been put forward in February and March of `1993 and building finally started in September 2002. In truth the history of terminal 5 actually goes back to the early 1970's. While the plans for the future terminal 4 were being put together secret discussions were already taking place concerning a fifth terminal, with Sir Peter Masefield the BAA chainman given the task of overseeing the plans. At that point it was thought the terminal could be in operation by 1990. However in the light of the huge public enquiry that would follow publication of the plans BAA put the project to one side and concentrated on other matters.
One of the largest construction projects in Europe the construction included the main terminal 5 and 3 separate satellite buildings all located on the far West of the airport. At the time of opening Terminal 5 provided 47 extra aircraft stands of which 10 being of sufficient size to handle the giant A380 airbus, the worlds largest passenger plane. By 2011 another 13 stands will be added to bring the total extra capacity up to 60 aircraft stands.
The project included a 4,000 space multi-storey car park, a new link road from the M25 motorway, the diversion of two rivers, reconstructing the Western perimeter road, a new 600 bed major hotel, (the Sofitel Heathrow terminal 5), and the extension of rail links, the Heathrow Express and the Piccadilly line.
Terminal 5 brought in a totally new baggage handling system handling all baggage for the entire airport and flight connection baggage transferred from Heathrow.
The first phase of the construction was the main terminal and the first satellite buildings with the second satellite building being due by 2011.
The satellite buildings will themselves be bigger than terminal 4. At the height of the project around 6,000 workers were involved in the construction.
The terminal saw the airports first use of carpods or PRT, personal rapid transport. Small driverless capsules will reach speeds up to 25mph over a 2.2 miles route. You will never wait more 12 seconds for an available pod.
On the day of opening to the public there was chaos with luggage not making it through the system long queues at check-in. This was blamed on staffing problems, staff not being able find car parking space and computer terminal errors. So bad were the problems that 68 flights had to be cancelled. It wasn't until the second week after opening that a normal service was operated with no flight cancellations. A backlog of some 25,000 cases which had not been sent with the passengers was flown to Milan for sorting. This was after 400 extra staff had been drafted in just to deal with the baggage.

In May 2011 the third building, and part of terminal 5 as a whole, was opened. Costing £340 million pounds the building is a satellite terminal (known as T5 C) and provided extra air bridge facilities with 12 new boarding gates and reducing by 3 million the annual number of passengers being bussed to their aircraft. 8 of the new gates are designed to cope with the super junmbos, the Airbus A380.

Terminal 5 layout map
terminal 5 map

Terminal 5 - artists impression

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