London is a divided city: east and west; rich and poor; home owners and renters. Labour must do something about it.
Boris Johnson is a showman. But with London’s population heading towards 10m what it needs is a leader with a plan – for more houses, more jobs and better communities.
Priority one is a modern, liveable city for all. No more families being unable to house their children, and no more of our young facing a lifetime of work without home-ownership.
Homebuilding in London, which stood at 18,000 completions last year, is less than half of the 40,000 a year that Johnson’s own 2020 Vision says is needed, and a third of the 52,000 estimated to keep up with growth in households. This largely explains why the average house price in the capital is heading north of £500,000.
The mayor needs to be promoting development agreements in key housing growth areas and managing their implementation relentlessly. Across most of London’s brownfield sites this simply isn’t happening at present.
Priority two is jobs. This means a massive expansion of apprenticeships: in engineering, in technology, in public services.
Tech City shouldn’t just be a few buildings off Old Street, but a part of every community.
The London living wage should become the wage floor. And the mayor should promote it aggressively, including through contracts and procurement.
Priority three is transport. Fares need to be frozen in the face of the cost of living crisis. Capacity on buses, tubes and trains needs to be increased to deal with congestion and population growth. I have been closely engaged in the design of Crossrail 2 – from Wimbledon, Clapham and Victoria through to Camden, Islington, Hackney and Haringey. It should be built immediately after Crossrail 1, linked to major housing and regeneration.
And east London badly needs new bridges and tunnels across the Thames. From Tower Bridge eastwards the river is a chasm, isolating communities and cutting off major jobs and housing growth in Southwark, Newham, Tower Hamlets, Bexley, Greenwhich and Barking and Dagenham.
London needs to do better for ordinary Londoners. Better schools, safer streets, more nurseries, play centres and things to do. All this requires leadership, delivery and vision.
You can read Andrew Adonis’s critique of Boris on housing and transport, and what he suggests needs to be done here.
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