London Mayor Launches Long Term Infrastructure Plan Consultation

The London Mayor has launched a Long Term Infrastructure Plan consultation that proposes Crossrail 2 and extending the Bakerloo line as part of the transport infrastructure enhancements.

London is set to exceed its record level of population within months and risks losing its position among the world’s elite cities unless a major programme of infrastructure investment is put in place to allow the capital to continue to operate efficiently and successfully. That is the verdict of the Mayor who launched a consultation on a 2050 London Infrastructure Plan today (30 July).

The London Infrastructure Plan 2050 is the first attempt to set out the full range of infrastructure requirements for the capital over the next half century, during which time the population of London is forecast to increase by thirty seven per cent to more than 11 million people. The Mayor wants to consult with Londoners, national Government, the wider southeast and beyond on the plan, which he describes as a wakeup call to the stark level of investment and thought that needs to be put into ensuring the capital does not falter.

The plan builds on the Mayor’s campaign for greater fiscal devolution to cities, which has brought together London’s government and the Core Cities Group – representing Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield – to jointly make the case for devolving locally-raised taxes to cities, allowing for investment in much-needed local infrastructure and boosting the whole of the UK’s economy. The Mayor believes that model for investment set out in the plan could also be suitable for all of these cities, and others, providing a blueprint for how they might invest in locally-decided priority infrastructure needs.

Although London currently leads the world in the finance, commercial, cultural, scientific and media sectors the capital is in danger of being overtaken by competitors who are already strengthening their infrastructure. The Mayor argues that a clear economic rationale underpins the need for a long term infrastructure plan, as rising prosperity for all depends on increased productivity, which itself relies on good infrastructure. However, infrastructure can only be delivered, improved and maintained through planned, sustained and targeted investment.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “This plan is a real wake up call to the stark needs that face London over the next half century. Infrastructure underpins everything we do and we all use it every day. Without a long term plan for investment and the political will to implement it this city will falter. Londoners need to know they will get the homes, water, energy, schools, transport, digital connectivity and better quality of life that they expect.”

If London’s population increases as forecast the plan explains how the city will be faced by a series of serious challenges to its infrastructure:

  • Demand for public transport is forecast to increase by 50 per cent with increased demand for Underground and rail services likely to increase by 60 and 80 per cent respectively

 

The Mayor will establish a London Infrastructure Delivery Board composed of senior representatives from all of the main infrastructure providers in London to utilise their expertise. The draft plan sets out detailed descriptions of how the challenges facing London might be met. They include:

  • Plans to improve transportation by maximising and extending Tube services. Crossrail 2 must be approved and further Crossrail projects may be required. Working with Network Rail, there is also huge opportunity to double capacity on the capital’s rail network. A series of new river crossings are needed and an inner orbital road tunnel should be built. A new four runway hub airport should be located in the Thames estuary, to the east of the capital.

 

The London Infrastructure Plan 2050 also discusses how growth might be accommodated in the capital. The plan suggests improving rail links to other urban areas in the southeast but the Mayor rules out building on the green belt as the large amounts of brownfield land within the capital should allow London to accommodate its growth, at least until 2025, within existing boundaries.

The full costs of delivering and maintaining the infrastructure London requires would result in a sharp rise in costs and a public sector funding gap. Arup estimate that the total investment in London’s infrastructure between 2016 and 2050 could amount to £1.3 trillion, although the purpose of consulting on this plan is to help agree priorities and how to reduce costs. Capital costs would rise significantly compared to existing funding levels and the Infrastructure Plan examines a number of ways of plugging the gap.

Fiscal devolution is vital and would give the city greater financial control over its transport, housing and other investments, and provide a base against which to borrow prudently. Public sector land and other assets could also be utilised more intensively, effectively and efficiently. Combined with better integration and procurement, costs could be reduced by up to £100-150 billion. It is also clear that while the public sector must always play a role in delivering infrastructure projects there is also plenty of scope for collaboration on major infrastructure projects with the private sector.

A consultation on the London Infrastructure Plan 2050 will run for three months and the Mayor is expected to publish a final report in early 2015.

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