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London Mayor Warns Government Over Homes

With only five days before the current short term Government funding deal with TfL expires, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has warned that if no agreement is reached, thousands of much-needed new homes may not be built.

In particular, the mayor is extremely concerned that if the government does not reach a funding agreement with TfL by the end of the week, the delivery of huge numbers of new homes for Londoners could be at risk and the following housing schemes may not happen:

•                 The delivery of a further 6,000 homes planned for Colindale station in Barnet.

•                 A second station entrance at Walthamstow Central to support the major redevelopment around the nearby shopping centre.

•                 30,000 new homes in Beckton Riverside and Greenwich that would be unlocked by an extension of the Docklands Light Railway towards Thamesmead and Beckton.

London has a long history of utilising improvements in transport infrastructure to unlock new housing opportunities across the city. Projects ranging from the Docklands Light Railway and Jubilee line extension in the 1990s to more recent examples such as the extension of the Northern line to Nine Elms and Battersea Power Station and the Barking Riverside Extension on the Overground have paved the way for planning conditions for more than 10,000 homes.

TfL has already had to make tough decisions following the economic impact of Covid-19. A ‘managed decline’ scenario would mean the Bakerloo line extension along the Old Kent Road towards Lewisham would become undeliverable for at least a decade and that more than 25,000 new homes and 15,000 jobs that rely on the extension may never materialise.

Without a funding deal, TfL‘s Growth Fund would also be compromised. The fund is specifically designed to help finance sustainable transport infrastructure schemes that could unlock development and regeneration opportunities in some of London’s most important growth areas. These would not only support new housing sites, but also help anchor local regeneration and town centre renewal as well as avoid car dependent developments, which is vital to decarbonising the city. This approach also helps attract match-funding from third parties to ensure that schemes are funded via private and public investment. Without this fund, schemes such as station improvements at Colindale, Leyton and Walthamstow Central, junction improvements at Tolworth and Catford Town Centre as well as a new DLR station at Thameside West would not be able to progress, which would impact the rate of economic recovery possible in these areas.

The Mayor has previously outlined the wider implications if a Government funding deal is not forthcoming. Failure to secure a sustainable deal could result in more than 100 bus routes being withdrawn and less frequent Tube timetables on a number of lines, this in turn could have a significant impact on the network’s efficiency and capacity and increase the potential for overcrowding.

Without additional Government support, deteriorating public transport services and an increase in road and tunnel closures would cause gridlock across the capital and risk the national economic recovery. Already aging Bakerloo line trains would need to wait decades longer to be replaced, leading to more frequent service delays.

TfL is even having to consider potentially closing a whole Tube line which would have a devasting effect on passengers – including the huge numbers of commuters and visitors who come into London each year.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “TfL plays an intrinsic role in so many aspects of London life beyond the Tubes, buses and trams. A modern, accessible, future-proof transport system is essential to unlock the genuinely affordable housing that Londoners so desperately need. Failing to adequately fund TfL is a dereliction of the Government’s duty to our capital city, the people of London and the country as a whole. We are in the middle of a housing crisis that cannot be solved if parts of the capital remain cut off from transport links or if vital schemes that improve access to town centres are not able to be delivered. There can be no national economic recovery without a London recovery, and there can no London recovery without a properly funded public transport network in the capital. So it’s time for the Government to provide TfL with the funding it urgently needs.”

To ensure that TfL can continue to play its vital role in the recovery, further operational support will be needed from the Government through to the end of the financial year 2021/22, and around £1.2bn will be needed for the financial year 2022/23. Beyond that, TfL needs sustainable capital investment, which every major transport network around the world requires to improve transport. London’s transport network dates from the 19th century and is therefore in need of constant investment even just to keep it running safely and reliably.