London First group dubs infrastructure challenges ‘relatively solvable’

London skyline / Cheesegrater

Business lobby group London First has launched a fresh call for devolution for the capital as part of a bid to provide new housing and transport links seen as vital for the city’s continued growth.

The demand comes in new report London 2036: An Agenda For Jobs and Growth, which argues that the capital should have control of a minimum of 10 per cent of its tax base to help pay for the homes and services it needs.

London 2036 takes its name from the year when the capital’s population is expected to top 10 million, and says housebuilding needs to double from the current 25,000 units a year to at least 50,000 while its transport system must stay ahead of rapidly-expanding regional need.

It contends that long-term infrastructure goals will be most easily met if more power is devolved from central government to the capital, including greater control of taxes and better powers to capitalise on the uplift in property values driven by transport investment.

Additionally, the report’s authors argue that a greater devolution of powers to borough level would create new incentives and resourcing for cross-borough co-operation to drive a “dramatic increase” in new-home delivery.

London First director of strategy John Dickie said infrastructure demands were among the easier requirements to plan for as part of the capital’s further growth.

“Some challenges facing London will take a long time to remedy - like preparing the populace for the highly-skilled jobs that will drive the city’s economy in the future,” he said.

“Infrastructure is different; yes, there are big issues, but they are all relatively solvable if we just step up investment and get started.

“We need to start serious development of Crossrail2 now and to double our historic rate of house completion - all of which would be made much easier if London government had the necessary decision-making powers.

“London’s population will breach its 1939 peak of 8.6m any day now - a timely reminder that we can’t afford to stand still for one moment.”

London First produced the report on behalf of the London Enterprise Panel, mayor Boris Johnson’s business-advisory group.