Consultations have been opened by TfL on the next massive British tunnelling project – another radial railway line for London. The Assembly asked for experts to give evidence and this is my initial effort. Their agenda and papers for Tuesday 21st meeting are at http://www.london.gov.uk/moderngov/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=173&MId=4954&Ver=4
Dear Jo Sloman
Apologies for such a delayed reply: I had been canvassing colleagues but find that (like me) they are swamped in the peak of the exam-board season and not free to attend on Tuesday.
I am glad to see that at least UCL is represented by Prof Metz.
Had I been able to come I would have wanted to prepare a short statement on the following points:
1. The issues surrounding “regeneration benefits” are very opaque. There is strong evidence that what we call “regeneration” increasingly benefits land and property owners and richer sections of the community at the expense of the low- and middle-income Londoners in whose name Regeneration is justified. Evidence presented by Just Space and others to the EiP on the 2009 draft replacement London Plan (now adopted as the 2011 London Plan) made this point very forcefully and carried great weight with the Panel – see their report §2.94-2.103. A subsequent Research Report by the GLA (WP 48 by Ennis and Douglass) also concluded that we lack the evidence to conclude that “regeneration” does benefit deprived populations.
The Committee should thus discount claims made for “regeneration benefits”: there may be benefits for property development and for property owners but the effects on the general population through rising rents and prices consequent on accessibility improvements will probably be negative because of the displacement and income effects.
2. It is very easy, in the current policy context, for a transport scheme radically to amplify displacement and ‘gentrification’ effects. The cautionary tale here is Dalston Junction. [ I have to declare an interest here because I played a small role in the adoption of what became the Overground ring (working with my colleague Professor Sir Peter Hall and with Drummond Robson I helped get this project on the GLA agenda in 2000 Hall, P, Edwards, M, Robson, D (1999), London’s Spatial Economy: the dynamics of change
London, London Development Partnership (LDP) and Royal Town Planning Institute. Eprint free at http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/1369585/
)] The Overground ring is a great success but what went wrong at Dalston was a TfL decision to build a very high-cost / high value transport interchange which has led TfL to develop a largely private-market residential scheme to cover its massive costs in decking over the station. The potential for large scale social housing expansion there to meet desperate regeneration needs has thus been lost. The Committee should confer with Planning and Housing Committees to ensure that, whatever does get built, channels its benefits to intended recipients and is not captured and diverted into property-owners’ receipts.
3. Thirdly I would strongly support the “Rod Eddington” position, that smaller-scale transport investments (of which TfL has many in its bottom drawer) are likely to yield much greater net benefits than massive tunnelling projects. Furthermore suburban orbital bus and cycling investments are likely to be highly beneficial to London residents and businesses and to have the best environmental payoffs too. Yet more radial lines would serve further to centralise London’s employment and property values.
If you or the committee would like us to expand on these points please let me know.
Michael Edwards, Senior Lecturer in the Economics of Planning, Bartlett School, UCL (and Just Space network)
LATER – Prof Peter Hall replies to my email round Bartlett colleagues:
Sorry I failed to respond (usual reasons) but this was my contribution published in a piece on London infrastructure priorities in the most recent NEW LONDON QUARTERLY:
Following the extraordinary success of TFL’s Overground network, which has attracted passengers far in excess of the computer-model forecasts, London’s next infrastructure priority should be to create a second Outer Orbital network.
Orbirail, the continuous circular line from Clapham Junction back to Clapham Junction, completed the present Overground system on 9 December. The first priority should be two further Overground investments: electrification of the line from Gospel Oak to Barking, allowing a continuous outer circular service to run around the northern half of the system from Richmond to Barking, and then extension from Richmond via Kingston to Wimbledon, there connecting with Croydon Tramlink. (The trains could reverse at a new siding south of Earlsfield station).
The second priority would be to extend the Tramlink as London’s first true Tram-Train system, running on the same tracks (as in German cities) from Elmers End to Lewisham, there connecting with the DLR and thus completing an outer circle via Stratford.
The third priority would be to extend the Overground from Acton-Old Oak to Cricklewood-Brent Cross, soon to become a major new outer London centre rivalling Shepherd’s Bush-White City, Stratford and the new Croydon Centre, linking it there to a new Bus Rapid Transit System on the North Circular Road all the way round to Barking and Ilford.
None of these schemes involves mega-expenditure. They just involve upgrading infrastructure that is already there. What’s needed is the same imagination that fuelled Tram-Trains in Karlsruhe and Kassel, and BRT schemes in cities like Bogotá and Brisbane.
Needless to say, all the others went for Crossrail 2.
Ccg to Jo Sloman.