Our London: Ideas For The Capital Beyond 2015

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 54 months ago
Our London: Ideas For The Capital Beyond 2015

ourlondon1There's a new Fabian Society publication out that looks at ideas for London beyond 2015. While normally this could be a yawnfest, it's interesting because the driving force behind it is Sadiq Khan, Labour's Shadow Minister for London and, some believe, frontrunner for mayoral candidate in 2016.

Our London is a collection of essays by various authors, some prominent Labour, some not (Green Jenny Jones, living wage campaigner Matthew Bolton, critic and playwright Bonnie Greer, Doreen Lawrence, LSE professor Tony Travers to name a few). While it is, yes, a political calling card, once you ignore the "one nation Labour" guff from Ed Miliband at the start it contains some interesting ideas that should fuel debate for how we want London to progress.

Andrew Adonis, for example, very firmly believes we need Crossrail 2, new Thames crossings to the East (including the Thames Gateway Bridge) and wants a decision on airport capacity before the 2015 election, not after as is the current plan. Sir Robin Wales describes Newham's programmes of getting people into jobs. Sadiq Khan himself tackles the housing crisis, saying we need longer-term tenancies to give stability to renters, build more social housing, create genuinely affordable housing, improve standards in the private rented sector and even build new cities outside London to ease pressure within. Jenny Jones offers a crystallised image of a sustainable London. Policing, the living wage, the arts, NHS, business and education are all tackled.

You can read them all by downloading the PDF from the Fabian Society website (or buying a paper copy for £9.95). You may not agree with the ideas, or even any of them, but we can never have too little debate about what we want London to be.

See also: Changing London: Debate New Ideas For The Next Mayor

Last Updated 16 December 2013


New bridges east of Tower Bridge, that's fine.
Crossrail 2,that's fine (though I am not quite sure the route is right).
Airport capacity decision before 2015, that's fine (if the right decision is made, of course).
Increase bus capacity to meet growing population and demand, that's fine.

But in a sense I am disappointed by the lack of ambition.

For example, the Northern Line extension to Battersea is a pointless appendix if it is not extended beyond yuppy towers to Clapham Junction where an interchange could really pay dividends, especially if it can be contrived so the walking is not a marathon. We need to extend the Bakerloo Line, which frankly is underused much of the day, further south to inner areas like Peckham and to the Bromley-type suburbs that feel little engagement with the Tube and LT bus system and so wreck any measures to spend more Mayoral council tax on them. Why not keep Ada and Phyllis, the tunnel boring machines, busy by not terminating HS2 at Euston but instead running it under Euston (so saving hundreds of Camden homes by the way) and onwards under the Thames to connect with HS1 and the line to Europe, enabling mancunians and Brummies to get into Europe by train in less than four hours, city centre to city centre, so reducing the need for fflights from out of town airports? Why is there no plan to improve Stansted Airport by extending the Central Line into a rapid link airport to tube line? Where are the proposals to bring back passengers onto the Dudden Hill line between Acton and Cricklewood? Where are the tram proposals, on routes better conceived than that through Acton? How many new buses will TfL need, and are we ready to place a contract for supply iwthin days of getting the mayoraly in 2016? We should have ambition in our transport policies, and not be limited to puny current programmes, thin as they are.

On new towns, I'm unclear whether new towns will be satellites of London or genuinely free-standing. Even a quarter of a million homes in the Lea Valley will still only be a staellite town of London. Elsewhere expaning an existing town big time will need jobs to go with it, and I don't buy that a British equivalent of Disneyworld will do the trick. I also think new towns are a cop out from making high rise a success for those who want to live in them. Tower blocks cna be made to work successfully, witness the corridor of them along the Thames. It needs good deisgners, awarness of space requirements, footprints large enough to cope with dead space at ground level, and first class insulation, lifts and common areas so that the front door is the lift exit, not the flat front door itself; above all tower blocks should be mixed developments, not ghettoes for the very rich or very poor.

The book is thought-provoking (though Tony Travers' chapter also seems to duck saying explicitly how the governance of London could be improved by the Mayor being better accountable to the GLA, and the latter having more power to enforce accountability).