Plan London as a region not a city says AECOM manifesto

London means everything within a one hour commute or 90km of the city centre and planning policy needs to change to think of the area as one city region according to consultant AECOM.

London - bigger than you think

In its Manifesto for the London City Region launched this week it says the next Parliament needs to take urgent action to plan for long term growth across the region. If not, “new” cities such as Dubai and Shanghai will overtake the UK capital in terms of economic competitiveness within 50 years. And the city would also face unprecedented social unrest because of a one million unit housing shortfall by the 2030s, AECOM said.

The “Big, Bold, Global, Connected – London 2065”  manifesto calls for:

•  The definition of London to be broadened to encompass areas of the South East, forming the London City Region;

•   Recognition that the London City Region already has a population of more than 20M, which will rise to 30M by 2065;

•    A revised, integrated approach to economic, population and urban growth – otherwise London will not meet the housing, employment and infrastructure challenges of the next 50 years, jeopardising its global position as a mega-city;

•    A new body – a London City Region Board – spanning the public and private sectors to address key challenges in infrastructure, planning, transport and housing;

•    An urgent review of the Metropolitan Green Belt, particularly around tube and rail stations;

•    Politicians, local authorities, developers, infrastructure providers and communities to think at the scale, scope and with unprecedented ambition as they plan for the future.

“We need to think differently about London – not just as a city, but as a city region if we are to meet the multiple challenges to infrastructure, planning, transport and housing that are crucial to London’s competitiveness and quality of life,” said AECOM UK leader for design, planning and economics Andrew Jones who led the development of the manifesto.

“Over two centuries, the governance structure in London and South East England has adapted to the challenges of larger, more complex urbanisation. Today, a rethink is needed – it is time for a fresh vision and approach that goes beyond traditional boundaries. While many of the pressures on London have been actively debated and initiatives outlined, we believe there has been a lack of joined-up thinking.

“Our manifesto identifies 10 actions to meet the challenges as there is no single solution to meeting housing demand and achieving balanced economic growth. It is critical that within the next five years real progress is made to deliver region-wide collaboration, planning and delivery.”

As well as a new body – the London City Region Board – AECOM is calling for a

•  Green Belt Commission to conduct a comprehensive review to understand the green belt’s potential in supporting sustainable urban growth, particularly around existing rail and tube stations, but also protecting valuable environments for future generations.

•  London City Region Transportation Authority, responsible for integrating and coordinating all transport plans and initiatives consistent with balanced spatial growth proposals.

•   London City Region Growth Corridor Delivery Consortia that will evolve from the non-statutory partnerships that exist today (such as the London Stansted Corridor Consortium). These consortia would develop and own infrastructure implementation plans prepared in conjunction with all the key public and private delivery agencies – including local authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), environment agencies, transport, health, education and utility providers – reaching from the city centre to the outermost parts of the city region.

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If "London means everything within a one hour commute ... of the city centre and planning policy needs to change to think of the area as one city region", what happens when HS2 brings central Birmingham within an hour's commute of London? And see:
Agree about the need to revisit greenbelt areas around stations. In my opinion stations are key to achieving sustainable growth, areas around stations command the highest (and least affordable) prices because they are essential to a mobile workforce. But as things stand there is very little room around existing stations. so either we need more stations or a relaxation on building within a short distance of one.