The Cost of Building

Articles, LondonUnlockedEditor1 Comment

Two articles are worth flagging up today.

Firstly, Dave Hill writes on the Mayor's efforts to get the required funding for CrossRail:

"From the Times City Diary:

"Boris Johnson is on the scrounge again. The Mayor of London, desperate to find the £16 billion needed to build Crossrail, the east-west rail link, has been approaching property firms for a contribution in return for planning clearance, even if their developments are nowhere near the planned route.

"In my innocence I'm still a bit surprised this is allowed. It's certainly not endearing him to developers. Hence, as Building reported, the use of the word "blackmailed" by Robert Lane of Terrace Hill in relation to its Howick Place scheme in Victoria. Boris touched Terrace Hill for £120,000. He'd have liked more, but made do."

Secondly, The Evening Standard carries the news that despite the downturn several skyscrapers are still set to go ahead, despite the Government and Mayor's (sometime) opposition to such projects.

These very different projects raise significant issues for transport in London.

Because of the downturn CrossRail is now forcing the most powerful directly elected politician in the UK to go cap-in-hand to developers, holding them to ransom in order to deliver a costly project on time, to budget, and which London will desperately need by 2017.

The skyscraper projects which the Mayor has grudgingly presided over (for many of these, Mr Johnson's predecessor actually granted approval) should make City Hall and TfL ask a similar question to the one they find being banded about for CrossRail now: where is the money coming from?

A skyscraper concentrates a workforce in a very narrow area, putting incredible demands on the existing transport infrastructure. Bank and Monument stations already struggle under rush-hour conditions. What will the extra workforce (if it ever comes) working in these structures mean local transport. Who is planning for this. Who is paying for the infrastructure upgrades that will be required?

The Mayor's team showed a lot of sense when planning their de-congestion strategy coming into office. They need to show similar foresight now and ensure that the 'modernisation' of London's skyline is matched with a transport system which can cope with the influx of new bodies it will bring.