'London First' Summit
Fresh back from London’s first Infrastructure Summit last week we highlight the three key take-aways in summary of the near term challenges facing the construction sector in London.
Now that the project is underway and in full flow we need to sustain support for it from the business community
The business and community case for Crossrail 2 has been evidenced, funding for the project is the single biggest constraint and contentious issue, with Londoners being asked to fund 50 percent of the project cost.
At this stage it is essential to identify where extra avenues for crucial near-term funding can be secured and injected in to the project. Several ideas on the table that are being examined by TFL are land value capture and fiscal devolution.
Furthermore, beyond London it was agreed that it is important to maintain a wider field of vision across the UK as a whole, with essential investment in key infrastructure gateways, balancing high quality rail services across both Crossrail 2 and in the north of England.
Priority given to Housing as a key part of the infrastructure debate
Historically housing has always taken a back seat in the infrastructure debate. Today is at the forefront, with a concomitant understanding amongst all stakeholders in key infrastructure projects that new housing supply is a fundamental component of master transport schemes, as seen in the planning and construction of Crossrail 2 and the Bakerloo line extension.
The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has pledged a firm commitment during his four year term to supporting the construction of affordable housing, a topic that will remain on the agenda for many years to come.
Problems remain in aviation transportation
All four London airports Gatwick, Heathrow, City and London Southend were in agreement on the threat posed by a hard Brexit, with potential constraints and restrictions on both ends on the free movement of EU citizens. They chimed that it was essential to see a deal on air travel rights determined and agreed upon by the UK and our EU counterparts as soon as possible.
Of major concern was the topic of air service agreements, as from 2019 British aviation companies will no longer have the legal right to travel to destinations inside the European Union.
It is crucial that as a key part of the Brexit negotiations that transitional agreement is installed and effective as soon as possible to ensure that passengers and cargo have the rights to free movement.
London’s airports are seeing rising demand and the ability to service increased inflows of passengers is a persistent issue. Government support and backing from businesses for an additional runway at Heathrow Airport has been established, to the applause of airport and travellers around the the UK, although at this stage in the consultation and planning process there remains a chance that the decision will not gain full approval. To service both current traveller and freight demand and to accommodate the anticipated rise in future numbers the protracted negotiations need to reach a conclusion and to (hopefully) gain sign-off.
By Steven Thomas, commenting on participation at the London First 'Infrastructure Summit' 14th September 2017.
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