The APPG on London’s Planning and the Built Environment met at the Houses of Parliament this week to hear visions for the capital’s future - and debate how we could get there.
MP for Ealing Central and Acton Rupa Huq, chair of the APPG, introduced the session. The cross-party group was set up in October 2015 by the London Society, supported by the NLA and Local Dialogue, bringing together MPs and Peers from across the political parties to debate the future shape of London. This event marked the launch of the APPG’s 2017 programme, which will focus on the formation of the London Plan, with in-depth enquiries and debates on Housing, Tall Buildings, and Workplaces.
First speaker Max Farrell said that in the last five years, London’s population has grown by the population of Edinburgh – in the next 10 it will increase again by the population of Birmingham. So we need to act differently and be more proactive and collaborative with our planning, he said, especially in terms of the public and private sector. Farrell had 10 main points to make, beginning with his belief that London needs green ‘braces’ rather than a green belt. That is, the capital already has green corridors, which are the obvious routes to develop along the transport and infrastructure network. Farrell also suggested that: London should be made the first National Park city; every project should have a cultural strategy; railway stations should become the new town centres; and East London should be connected with low-level lifting bridges. He added that London needs to establish an argument on where tall buildings are acceptable – to which NLA and London Society chairman Peter Murray added that the mayor should commission a 3D model of the capital; that more mansion blocks should be built as they could facilitate more affordable housing; that affordable workspaces were important, industrial uses could be integrated with other uses, and finally, that more work should be done on autonomous vehicles.
Farrell was followed by Ben Derbyshire, who presented his Superbia idea, which seeks to capitalise on the capacity for an extra 1.4 million new homes identified by Savills in the suburbs of London. Key to the idea, Derbyshire told the MPs, was the private ownership of suburban homes. By using the equity they are sitting on, he said, ‘we can fuel the densification of outer London boroughs.’ ‘We want NIMBYs to become YIMBYs by giving people the appropriate framework to allow development in these sites.’
Questions included Victoria Borswick MP who queried what could be learned from Crossrail 1 in terms of funding Crossrail 2; while Paul Scully MP, asked about how low bridges could aid regeneration and facilitate river transport. The panel debated how we can ensure that new development meets Londoners needs, with agreement that we need to ensure that we focus on creating new infrastructure and connections in the areas where new regeneration is most needed.