Look around you on your way to work. How many more people do you see commuting in and out on a daily basis? I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels cramped, frustrated and annoyed on over-crowded trains in the morning.
We all know our city is growing rapidly. London’s population is set to rise from 8.6 million to 10 million in 2030. So how will we accommodate all this growth? Where will these people live? How will they get to work, visit family and friends or explore what this wonderful city has to offer?
The Mayor envisages accommodating much of London’s population growth (1 million) in Opportunity Areas, such as Elephant & Castle, Old Oak Common and Park Royal and Croydon. However many of these Opportunity Areas lack good transport links to bring in development on the scale London needs.
Have you ever tried getting to Old Kent Road, Lewisham or Catford? These areas deserve decent transport services and we know that these are essential to attract developers and unlock future development.
Importantly, as well as holding back growth, inadequate transport links can also prevent local people from accessing jobs in different parts of London.
The London Assembly Regeneration Committee report ‘Transport-led regeneration: Has TfL’s Growth Fund risen to the challenge?’ reviews Transport for London’s (TfL) 10-year £360 million fund, which aims to support jobs and housing growth in London.
You may not have heard of it, but it’s an important fund.
Unlike other funding mechanisms, this fund has a different purpose. It looks for future transport demand in London, is flexible in its funding allocations and has plugged gaps in stalled transport schemes across London.
We know the next Mayor has a series of important decisions to make about future transport projects in the capital. So that is why we have recommended that TfL’s Growth Fund is renewed with a commitment to extend it for another decade.
However the criteria TfL have used to allocate funding has been inconsistent. So we on the Regeneration Committee are calling for more transparency and a consistent approach to allocations. TfL should treat this fund like other mayoral funds.
It should be subject to an open and formalised bidding process with clear selection criteria. That way, local boroughs can propose schemes for the fund and those in Opportunity Areas can be prioritised.
TfL also needs to improve the way it engages and consults with local people. People need a say in the way transport improvement plans are developed within their communities and local areas. TfL should consistently consult and communicate with people when proposing new or improved transport programmes.
The Regeneration Committee agree this fund is being put to good use. But what about the future and the prospect of sustainable funding sources? As transport settlements get tougher and tougher for London, we need to be able to draw upon our own income streams.
That is why the Regeneration Committee is calling for the Mayor to lobby for stamp duty devolution for London, in order to fund much-needed transport improvements.
We can capture any growth in land values for ourselves and it will enable a future Mayor to reinvest the proceeds into further transport improvement projects and make sure local people and taxpayers gain from public investment in transport.
London needs a world class transport system and planned investment is absolutely essential to keep this great city moving.
To read ‘Transport-led regeneration: Has TfL’s Growth Fund risen to the challenge?’ please click here.
Gareth Bacon AM is Chairman of the London Assembly Regeneration Committee. Stay up to date with the Assembly’s work via @londonassembly.