LONDON, March 4, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --
Urgent action required, with strategic decisions taken within course of next Parliament
According to the manifesto, without a long-term, integrated approach:
- London risks being overtaken by Dubai and Shanghai in terms of competitiveness within 50 years;
- A one-million-unit housing shortfall before the mid-2030s could cause social and economic divides lasting generations;
- Quality of living in London's communities could suffer as pressure grows on medical services, schools and other civic facilities;
- Economic growth will be negatively impacted if joined-up, long-term vision and planning aren't developed.
The 10-point 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 20 million, which will rise to 30 million 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.
AECOM, the global integrated infrastructure services company, today published its manifesto for the London City Region entitled "Big, Bold, Global, Connected-London 2065", which sets out ideas for the long-term growth of the city and wider South East region, and contributes to the wider debate on housing, economy and infrastructure. The manifesto warns that London's status as a leading global city is under threat and calls for a collaborative, region-wide approach to tackle major challenges in housing, infrastructure, transport and planning.
AECOM's manifesto calls for a new vision of the city as the London City Region, which looks beyond the 50-year-old boundaries of Greater London to ensure that London and the UK retain their position as a global leader.
The London City Region, broadly an area within 90 kilometres, or one hour's commute, of central London, is now home to more than 20 million people and is expected to grow to 30 million by 2065. AECOM calculates that the growth in the London Region's population will lead to a shortfall of one million homes by 2036 unless new sites are found and building is accelerated.
With around one million people commuting into and out of London every day, strong economic links between industrial and learning 'clusters' both within and beyond the capital are essential. Jobs will be created in one area and homes needed in different and often distant districts. Addressing the housing shortfall therefore needs region-wide collaboration and vision.
The drivers affecting change are not just local. London is at risk of losing its competitive position within the next 50 years compared with Dubai, Shanghai and other emerging global mega-cities that, unlike London, are not burdened with ageing infrastructure, some of which dates back more than 150 years.
UK could lose out in global competition for talent
Many of the world's emerging mega-cities that compete with London for talent have bold visions and buoyant economies that will entice leading global companies to relocate. Living standards and quality of life, as well as modern transport infrastructure, will tempt a mobile and highly skilled workforce from the UK.
By the mid-2020s, nearly half of the world's leading companies will be based in emerging regions, compared to one-fifth today. In 10 years' time, Asia will be home for nearly two-thirds of the global middle class, compared to one-third today. These mega-cities will compete with London for trade and talent, as the global map of influence shifts away from the London-New York City axis.
Looking to these diverse and long-term challenges, the manifesto calls for the creation of a wide-ranging London City Region Board - encompassing government, local authorities, developers, communities and infrastructure providers - to take a co-ordinated approach to address the multiple challenges in infrastructure, planning and transport, as well as a growing housing crisis.
Andrew Jones, who led the development of the manifesto and is AECOM's UK leader for design, planning & economics, said:
"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.
"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.
"Today we are calling for the creation of a new body spanning the public and private sectors, which will create a coherent regional growth strategy. The future, long-term success of London and the wider London City Region depends on the decisions taken in the next Parliament.
"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."
Recent plans don't go far enough
The Mayor's Infrastructure Plan to 2050 and London First/London LEP's Economic Plan begin to frame the debate, but this picture needs to be combined with a complementary approach to planning that goes beyond the current boundaries of London. It also needs a long-term horizon - looking 50 years ahead to 2065. Whilst we welcome many of these proposals, including George Osborne and Boris Johnson's recently announced long-term economic plan for London which demonstrates commitment both at city level and nationally, they do not adequately address the challenges in a broader context. For each of these initiatives, the scope stops at the edge of Greater London - a boundary conceived 50 years ago and no longer reflective of the scale and reach of the London economy.
Partnership approach and refreshed system of governance is needed
AECOM's manifesto calls for a refreshed system of governance in which government, local authorities, developers, communities and infrastructure providers think at the scale and with the ambition that London needs. A bold, integrated approach to regional growth is required that recognises the interdependent relationship between London and its region.
The current 'Duty to Co-operate' across local authority boundaries does not work. Delivering growth in the London City Region requires a more joined-up approach to implementation, which involves the public and private sector working in partnership in order to manage the pace of change that is forecast.
The approach needs to balance local decision-making and influence within a framework capable of creating and implementing an integrated spatial London City Region plan. The forecast population and economic growth, together with a redefined position amongst global cities, provide the opportunity for London's - and the UK's - future success. But this will only be effective if stakeholders coordinate strategic planning and growth at the London City Region scale.
Boundary reform may play a part in the solution, particularly for those districts that are functionally and culturally connected to the capital, but the call is to join up more widely.
AECOM supports the establishment of a two-tiered approach to London City Region collaborative governance, which will need statutory weight and funding if it is to have real impact.
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.
Together, the London City Region Board, a Green Belt Commission, a London City Region Transportation Authority and London City Region Corridor Delivery Consortia would articulate spatial solutions for accommodating balanced growth along with associated infrastructure proposals and programmes for meeting this growth, and align the plans and programmes of the delivery agencies and utility providers.
AECOM's Andrew Jones added:
"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."
Notes to Editors
Infographics from the manifesto report are available on request. To download the manifesto, please go to: http://www.aecom.com/london2065
AECOM is a premier, fully integrated professional and technical services firm positioned to design, build, finance and operate infrastructure assets around the world for public- and private-sector clients. With nearly 100,000 employees - including architects, engineers, designers, planners, scientists and management and construction services professionals - serving clients in over 150 countries around the world, AECOM is ranked as the #1 engineering design firm by revenue in Engineering News-Record magazine's annual industry rankings, and has been recognized by Fortune magazine as a World's Most Admired Company. The firm is a leader in all of the key markets that it serves, including transportation, facilities, environmental, energy, oil and gas, water, high-rise buildings and government. AECOM provides a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering customized and creative solutions that meet the needs of clients' projects. A Fortune 500 firm, AECOM companies, including URS Corporation and Hunt Construction Group, had revenue of approximately $19 billion during the 12 months ended Dec. 31, 2014. More information on AECOM and its services can be found at http://www.aecom.com.