Leading engineer Mark Whitby has criticised the government's flagship infrastructure project, Crossrail, claiming it would deliver only "mess and disruption, as well as starving other projects of cash".
Whitby, writing in Building this week, calls for the money that would have been spent on Crossrail to be used to subsidise new housing in the centre of London.

He says: "Crossrail is the engineer's solution to a problem that has not been properly understood."

He calculates that the cost of the Crossrail project is far too high. He notes that the cost of each seat of the £757m project to redevelop Wembley is £8410, whereas the cost for each seat of the £9bn Crossrail project will cost £30,000. This, he says, does not make financial sense.

Whitby argues that the money should be spent to encourage people to move into the centre of London. If that were combined with extensions to the congestion charge area, Whitby argues, "we could have a city that develops a densely populated core as incremental increases to the congestion zone boundary release more and more inner city brownfields to housing".

Whitby laid the blame for the championing of Crossrail at the door of construction industry "vested interests".

He said that these lobby groups orchestrated smear campaigns against a less well-resourced opposition that might well have better ideas. London needed to start imagining things differently.