Lessons learnt from ongoing infrastructure projects and what London needs in the 2020-2024 mayoral term
Delegates assessed the priorities for London’s infrastructure going forward and the steps that need to be taken in the next Mayoral term.
They considered key issues for modernising London’s existing infrastructure, including what can be learnt from ongoing projects and the steps that need to be taken to complete them, as well as what new major developments will be needed to meet the challenges of an increasing population and economic growth.
Areas that were discussed included:
- Water and utility infrastructure and managing multi-site operations, minimising disruption, and addressing the challenges presented by surface and below-surface equipment use; and
- Tackling groundwork and engineering barriers to create new port capacity on brownfield sites, and accommodating increased levels of freight, assembly, and trade.
It took place in the context of the drafting of the new London Plan, which sets out the Mayor of London’s priorities and blueprint for the future development of London, including the planning guidance for future infrastructure projects.
The Panel of Inspectors has examined the draft plan and published recommendations for the Mayor to consider - including:
- Suggesting the Mayor’s housing target be revised downwards by 126,500;
- Calling for a review of London’s green belt; and
- Finding the plan inconsistent with national policy on Heathrow.
The final plan is due to be published in March 2020.
Overcoming local infrastructure delivery challenges and developing partnerships between councils and wider stakeholders
Further sessions considered how engagement in the planning process can be improved.
It follows the revised National Planning Policy Framework and the Mayor’s Better homes for local people, both stating the importance of engagement between councils, communities, business, and infrastructure providers.
With £600m announced for the expansion of housing supply in London and the South East, there was further discussion on issues around gaining community approval and its importance in delivering new infrastructure.
Delegates also considered:
- Minimising residential and economic impacts from large-scale redevelopment projects like Battersea Power Station, and maximising wider benefits for commerce and public spaces;
- The use of approaches such as land-value capture by councils and other stakeholders to enhance local wealth and project consents; and
- Funding priorities for London projects and addressing key barriers to approval - local and business partnerships, effective business cases, and attracting private investment.
Developing Nationally Significant Projects in London and the South East, and ensuring infrastructure is fit for the pressures of an expanding population
Further sessions assessed the capacity that London and the South East need beyond the 2020s, examining the challenges involved in the delivery of nationally significant and megaprojects - including in the areas of funding, getting approval from stakeholders, and overcoming the engineering obstacles involved.
It comes with the London Mayor’s Economic Development Strategy, which highlighted priorities for establishing long-term economic growth through infrastructure expansion, including London road network upgrades and growing international connectivity.
The agenda gave delegates the opportunity to consider:
- Enhancing connectivity to regions around London, such as through the Lower Thames Crossing project, focusing on road infrastructure design and working with the physical environment, including dealing with sensitive environmental sites;
- Heathrow extension and stakeholder engagement, as well as addressing special construction and disruption challenges - following the Civil Aviation Authority’s refusal to allow Heathrow to increase spending on preparation work for a third runway before planning consent is given; and
- Options for new road networks and tunnels in London to alleviate congestion pressures, such as the Silvertown Tunnel and the particular issues around inner-city infrastructure developments.