The key challenge faced by Livingstone is how to handle the capital's rapidly increasing population. Half a century of demographic decline ended in 1989; after that, the population began to increase at a rate considerably higher than average UK growth. "London is expected to grow by the equivalent of the population of Leeds in the next decade and a half," writes Livingstone in his introduction. This amounts to an extra 700,000 city-dwellers by 2016 – a growth in population of 9.5%.
To cater for the thousands of expected newcomers, the 402-page plan sets out ambitious targets for providing jobs and homes.
The draft plan makes a particular attempt to stem the exodus of London's army of key workers. These are the public sector staff required to keep the capital functioning – including teachers, nurses and transport workers – and who are increasingly finding themselves priced out of the city's property market. Here, the plan presents a further challenge for London's housebuilders – the mayor intends to double the rate of affordable houses being built to 10,000 a year. But again, this target is fewer than half the 25,700 extra affordable homes the Greater London Authority calculates are needed annually to master the capital's looming housing crisis.
On top of these targets, the plan accepts the urban taskforce's conclusion that development should be concentrated on high-density brownfield sites within the green belt. To this rule it adds a string of sustainable policies, such as "world-class architecture and design", the recycling of building materials and the installation of renewable energy systems.
There are acres of land for development, but they have negative value. Without new transport links, it just won’t happen
Tony McBrearty, deputy chief executive, Thames Gateway Strategic Partnership
But these ambitious promises will be far from easy to keep. There are at least five key impediments to the development of new jobs and homes in the capital that might just prove too much even for the indefatigable Livingstone.
- Other, Size 0 kb