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Create single transport body for London commuter belt, urges report

A single transport body should be created to oversee infrastructure across a huge swathe of South East England, experts have urged.

A single transport body should be created to oversee infrastructure across a huge swathe of South East England, engineers said last week.

This was one of the recommendations in consultant Aecom’s Big, Bold, Global, Connected - London 2065 report, which sets out its blueprint for developing the capital over the next 50 years.

The report called for acknowledgement of the emergence of a London City Region, defined as capturing everywhere within an hour’s commute of the capital.

Aecom said this region - which could span from Brighton to Northampton and from Southend to Swindon - would have a population of 30M by 2065.

It called for creation of a London City Region Transportation Authority, responsible for coordinating all transport initiatives within the zone in line with balanced spatial growth proposals.

Such a body will be critical to avoid London losing its global position in the face of growth of mega-cities such as Dubai and Shanghai, says the report.

“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.

“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.”

As well as the transportation authority, the report called for a London City Region board, a Green Belt Commission and for the establishment of London City Region growth corridor delivery consortiums.

These would bring forward plans for balanced growth and related infrastructure.

“To cement the capital’s long-term economic success in an increasingly competitive world, we need a blend of solutions to be established within a coherent growth strategy for the London City Region,” said Jones.

“We need a bold, integrated approach to regional growth that recognises the interdependent relationship between London and its regions.”

He said progress in the north of England showed how collaboration between areas that shared economic, social, cultural and functional relationships can drive growth.

“The answer does not solely lie in densifying the city, reviewing the green belt, extending regional towns and cities, or building new settlements. It will need a blend of all these approaches. Bold vision and joined-up leadership are required to ensure future success,” he said.

The report called for four types of bodies to bring forward plans for balanced growth with associated infrastructure:

  • A London City Region Board
  • A Green Belt Commission
  • A London City Region Transportation Authority; and
  • London City Region Growth Corridor Delivery Consortia

It also made a 10-point manifesto for the London City Region:n Re-imagine London’s city centres - extend the core of the capital with bold next-generation regeneration plans at national and international arrival points

  • Live closer in the suburbs - create high-quality 21st Century communities around Tube and rail stations to stimulate a “reboot” of London’s suburbs
  • Enable a thriving South East network of cities - to balance growth across a London City Region which connects world-leading clusters of learning, technology and innovation
  • Build a bold new town programme - revisit the former new towns and initiate a second-generation programme with a scale of ambition to tackle the regional housing deficit
  • Modernise the Green Belt - through a comprehensive review to balance development with a new focus on the region’s green infrastructure
  • Link up the region - with a region-wide transport authority to co-ordinate travel and investment across an enhanced express rail network
  • Unlock national potential - establish two-way high speed links between the London City Region and other UK city regions
  • Connect to the world - build on Heathrow’s strengths to create a hub that is London and the UK’s global gateway
  • Celebrate infrastructure - with a joined-up regional approach to infrastructure delivery as an enabler of economic and community growth
  • Think big - with connected governance reflecting the priorities for a global megacity region

Jones said: “To cement the capital’s long-term economic success in an increasingly competitive world, we need a blend of solutions to be established within a coherent growth strategy for the London City Region.

“We need a bold, integrated approach to regional growth that recognises the interdependent relationship between London and its regions. Progress made in Manchester and across the northern cities illustrates how collaboration with neighbours that share economic, social, cultural and functional relationships can drive growth.

“The answer does not solely lie in densifying the city, reviewing the green belt, extending regional towns and cities, or building new settlements. It will need a blend of all these approaches. Bold vision and joined-up leadership are required to ensure future success.”

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