I’ve penned lots of well deserved criticism of TfL of late, but here’s some equally well-earned praise:
Its ambitious and imaginative plans to increase the amount of money the body raises from commercial activities could see Tube stations become a key and valued part of local communities.
Commercial Development Director Graeme Craig’s focus on TfL’s existing independent retailers offers hope for a welcome alternative to the identikit, big brand high streets.
Outside of stations local shops are squashed by the marketing budgets and loss-leading activities of the major brands, but located in a busy station and supported by a committed landlord they’ll have a better chance of building a profitable and sustainable business.
And the idea of teaming up with online retailers to offer ‘click and collect’ services is a genius move which promises to increase the attractiveness of travelling by Tube for both existing and potential passengers.
But most exciting of all is the prospect of TfL developing its property portfolio in-house, securing a long-term funding stream of commercial and residential rents rather than selling assets off for a quick buck.
If someone is going to make money from a new office or apartment block’s proximity to a publicly funded Tube station, that someone should be the London tax and fare payer.
If this new approach is as successful as we should all hope it is, future Mayors will enjoy a potentially lucrative source of additional funding, free of Government restrictions.
So a big thumbs up, though strictly on the condition that none of the resulting developments are named ‘Ken Livingstone House’ or ‘Boris Johnson Towers’.