With a population growth now measured at nine new residents every hour, London must continue to invest in infrastructure across the board to stay globally competitive. And while plans for Crossrail 2 are well advanced, the capital needs new and innovative sources of funding to enable it and schemes like the Bakerloo Line Extension to go ahead.
Those were some of the key principles to emerge from a special half-day conference at NLA last week into the infrastructure needs of the capital, sponsored by AECOM, Bircham Dyson Bell and Transport for London. These, said opening speaker GLA assistant director for economic policy Jeremy Skinner, include 1.5 million new homes, a 50% increase in public transport capacity, 600 more schools and colleges, 40 new facilities for waste and 9000ha of green space, all needed by 2050. All cities need greater fiscal independence to grow, said Skinner, who added that the GLA will publish an infrastructure activity map and database later this summer. ‘The broad conclusion is that we need to think much more creatively about how we can fund the infrastructure we have’, he said.
Transport for London’s head of strategy and policy, planning, Lucinda Turner said that TfL was under pressure to become self-reliant and had already taken 15% out of its cost base. But ambitious aims such as tunnelling and decking projects including at Hammersmith and the fact that the number of daily trips across London forecast to increase by 5m trips to 30m trips per day by 2021 mean that there is a growing case for devolution of responsibility for decision-making and funding. ‘We need new funding sources and to better exploit existing ones’, said Turner, with value capture, such as devolved stamp duty, in its sights. ‘Business as usual just won’t cut it much longer’, she said.
Crossrail 2 managing director Michèle Dix said the transport challenge was acute since the network is becoming more intensely used, with the number of people travelling to work in central London up by almost a third since 2004. But there is a gap in the network that Crossrail 2 – twice as big as Crossrail 1, aptly – will plug, unlocking housing and promoting jobs in the process. Around half of the Crossrail 2 £27bn cost can be found through existing sources, but, said Dix, we have to be more inventive, with perhaps a hotel bed tax or in other value capture – the increase in stamp duty alone would give 50% of the line’s cost. The ‘mayor’s priority transport scheme’ already has a safeguarded route, with its next milestone the submission of its business case.
The conference also heard from City of London Corporation chief information officer Graham Bell on the Square Mile’s initiatives to improve broadband and wireless connectivity and London Communications Agency director Sarah Baranowski, who said that housing is the ‘new transport’ - the big political issue that will figure strongly in next year’s mayoral campaign. AECOM associate director, sustainability, Michael Henderson, outlined the need to look at a more integrated approach to water cycle management because London and the south east are ‘running out of water’, while Bircham Dyson Bell partner Shabana Anwar showed how ‘nationally significant’ infrastructure projects and others could benefit from going down the quicker and more certain development consent order. British Land’s residential development director Emma Cariaga outlined the Canada Water project as a new part of London, while Peter Elliot, senior property development manager at TfL, demonstrated how the organization is looking to develop some 10m sq ft of property over the next 10 years to raise £1.1bn, with a new, ‘grown up approach’ instead of selling underutilized properties. Weston Williamson partner Rob Naybour said stations had become unique public buildings that are part of everyone’s urban experience on a day-to-day basis, with projects like its Woolwich Crossrail station aiming to drive regeneration. And finally Cllr Mark Williams, cabinet member for regeneration, planning and transport at Southwark Council made the case for the £4.7bn Bakerloo Line Extension. The BLE will unlock development on the Old Kent Road Opportunity Area, where Southwark has raised its aims to create around 10-15000 new homes. ‘We desperately want this and desperately need it’, he said.
David Taylor, Editor, New London Quarterly