Greenish / redish plans for London

A sustainable economy for London, submitted to the GLA by David Fell (the main author), Michael Edwards, Richard Lee, Jenny Bates, Richard Bourn and Darren Johnson. PDF version at We hope soon to have a wiki version because it is designed as a basis for discussion and further development. Later:  revised version as  David Fell’s submission to Boris Johnson’s draft plan 12 January 2010 here.

Author: Editors


4 thoughts on “Greenish / redish plans for London”

  1. Comments by Judith Ryser
    on A Sustainable Economy for London
    David Fell et al

    I agree with the idea of a sustainable economy for London and hope it can influence the amendments of The London Plan. Below are some thoughts.

    Re introduction (2)
    Does London aspire to be a business capital or financial capital?
    Does it have important media services or creative industries?

    London’s centre may well attract the core of jobs. Why did the London Plan eliminate it as an entity and split it into the four London quarters? Johnson had the opportunity to reinstate a centre, is it spatially, economically, environmentally appropriate?

    Re the critique (3)
    Neo Keynesian measures seem to apply to perpetuate the old economic order: is propping up the financial sector and the automobile industry help sustainable development?
    Other sacred cows persist under the pretext that they are vital for the UK economy and create jobs and thus override any sustainability arguments. eg the ‘need’ for a third runway at Heathrow brushes aside all adverse externalities, e.g. CO2 emissions, congestion on roads, low wages – poverty. A London economy akin to ‘prosperity without growth’ would make such an unsustainable investment redundant. How to win the race?

    The government remedies to reduce CO2 emissions are top down and do not identify the implications for the lower tier levels. The London Plan does not address these consequences either. It tends to go it alone (cf The Mayor’s Climate Change Action Plan 2007) setting its own targets, but not elaborating how the lower tier and third parties could implement them.

    Re implications for London (4)
    moreover: building minute dwellings with minute rooms as in-fills in inner city lacking day-and sunlight.
    noise levels re helicopter surveillance, (bc induced fear of terrorism ) increased frequency of air traffic on flight passes over populated areas including the centre under pretext that third runway in Heathrow is needed for London’s economy and will create jobs (low paid?)

    economic sectors
    what is the contribution of publishing and printing in proportion to total London GDP? surely it would have to include the content providers who tend to be attracted to London and its media scene.

    green collar jobs
    the argument about access to these jobs can be contested; if there is displacement through retraining other jobs are vacated and become available for newcomers.

    farmers’ markets
    check what distances those who hold stalls there travel and how much of their produce is self generated and how much is bought from wholesale markets.

    regulating behaviour
    low carbon retailing through coercive regulation. In many cases, the regulators would not even have the powers to enforce these proposals. Better to work on changing attitudes and behaviour. if demand changes the retail sector will have to follow. [See French consumer strike against not producing fresh bred locally twice a day].

    public sector procurement.
    this is a realistic tool to influence climate change. It should get exposure through green campaigns to make these changes known widely so that they could be copied by the social and the private sectors.

    carbon trading
    this has its critics who think that it enables (rich) people and companies to continue polluting without changing their lifestyles.

    green business services
    hands-on initiators and implementers in the field are also needed, over and above the desk studies. As their work is experimental they would need some protection (public guarantees, insurance?) in our risk adverse environment and claims culture.

    local energy production
    according to the defra study about sustainable behaviour local energy generation is the least realistic solution. Individuals can do much more outside the barriers oto local energy production in changing their consumer behaviour. This can include things which would involve cooperation such as communal food growing in public spaces.

    Summary re visions (5)
    During the oil shock of the seventies a lot of innovative work has been undertaken. As soon as the oil came on stream cheaply again they were abandoned and business as usual prevailed. How can the collective memory of such innovative periods be preserved and knowledge acquired then reused without prejudice which claims that things have changed too much to be relevant today. There is little change in human nature, the existing building stock, London’s road patterns, its public transport system, its sewage and water mains, the commuter habits and much more. Some of the good thinking which adverse energy conditions has brought about could be of use to-day, even just to discard some of the proposed solutions. Many seem to reinvent the wheel (e.g. CHP, heat pumps, home insulation, higher density building, more, better and more reliable public transport).

    While I subscribe to many visions at the end of the paper, they lack a chapter about how to get from the ‘is-state’ to this desirable ‘ought-to-be’ state. Plausible practical, operational proposals are needed to kick-start such changes.

    Government legislation and initiatives on climate change are rich in advice (and to some extent analysis) but scarce in implementation. Since climate change became topical – say since the turn of the century – precious little has been realised in London, including by the London Assembly. For example the widely quoted BedZED housing estate predates all these initiatives.
    What has given rise to concrete results from the early versions of the London Plan which embraced the notion of sustainability? The London Plan suffers from a number of contradictions and most critically a lack of plans B and C. The assumptions of population growth and economic expansion are still there and no concrete alternative scenario for population and job decline or stagnation, or the shrinking of the financial sector are proposed. Perhaps there is a need for long term scenarios based on very different assumptions, including the one in which people refuse to become more environment conscious and show where that would lead.


  2. Just returned from AESOP where I didn’t hear any formal sessions debating alternative visions, but I definitely participated in several head-banging sessions on alternative possibilities and opportunities like the vision.
    So I’ve just forwarded your email to the various people whose heads were banging along with mine – John Ploger, Margo Huxley and Diana MacCallum in particular.

    Thanks for this. It’s a very welcome voice. You definitely have my support and it’s a most timely document for the new agenda which I will propose to the EU for post Social Polis.
    I cant promise constructive comment, but I’ll try.

    Cheers and keep up the great work.

    Hi Michael,

    I tried to add a bit to the blog but got lost wandering around, so just wanted to tell you that I’ve made the ‘vision’ a key reference for my Planning Theory module next semester for the Masters students and am asking them to comment on it.



  3. We discussed this alternative visiion at the London Tenants’ Federation conference on 25 July. I had stressed the shortcomings and gaps so far. Very weak on land policy, housing need, supply, ownership, rents and prices, security
    Also weak on poverty, income distribution
    Fails to challenge the new orthodoxy on public expenditure cuts: whoever wins the next election looks certain to slash the social wage, thereby cancelling any Keynesian boost to the economy and cutting workers’ living standards just when they must be raised.This will be the massive campaigning issue.
    The general conception of a counter-strategy seemed to find support. But some people were very grumpy about us having cooperated with greens….


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