The most populous city in the country, London is the capital of England and the United Kingdom (UK). The city is steeped in history as it has been a major settlement for 2,000 years. London is a leading global hub and home to one of the world’s largest financial centers, as well as one of the world’s largest city airport systems. The city is also a cultural center of global renown.
The Greater London Authority (GLA) is the regional government of the area known as Greater London. The GLA consists of the Mayor of London as head of the executive and the elected 25-member London Assembly, responsible for scrutiny. The GLA shares local government powers with the City of London Corporation and the councils of 32 London boroughs, and was originally set up with the aim to improve coordination between boroughs.
The Mayor proposes policy and oversees a budget of around CAD28.6 billion, supporting investment in public transport, fire services and policing as well as the work of City Hall. The London Assembly is consulted on, and can amend, the Mayor’s draft budget. The Mayor acts as chair of Transport for London (TfL), which implements the Mayor’s transport strategy and oversees London’s transport services. The Mayor sets TfL’s budget, appoints the board and is responsible for ensuring London’s transport meets its demands. The London Assembly holds TfL to account and reviews and tests the Mayor’s transport strategy.
Forecasts indicate that London’s population will swell to more than 10 million in 2035, which will place increasing pressure on housing, social infrastructure (particularly education), transport and urban systems.
Sea levels affecting London are expected to rise by 11.4 to 16 centimeters by 2030 and by 14.8 to 20.8 centimeters by 2040. The city is particularly vulnerable to changes in sea level because of the tidal nature of the River Thames, which runs through London’s center. It is important that current flood defenses, including the Thames Barrier, which is already nearing the end of the lifespan of its designed standard of flood protection, can withstand this change.
Extreme summer temperatures are expected to increase by as much as 4.5 degrees Celsius and there will be changes in annual precipitation. These changes need to be carefully considered in the city’s climate change strategy and for future developments.
Although London has plans and strategies in place to meet future megatrends, including the provision of housing, public transport, urban systems and climate change adaption, it is to be determined the extent to which these plans are sufficient, and achievable.
UK cities are required to publish forward plans for relatively short periods, such as five to ten years ahead. While they may be well advanced in forming strategies for the longer timescales under consideration here, such plans are typically not published and so longer-term funding will not be formally earmarked at this stage. Consequently, some of our assessment considers the direction of travel, rather than definitive or funded plans, as the measure of the city’s preparedness for the future world of twenty plus years’ time.
Myriad challenges exist for housing development and home ownership in London. Prices are notoriously high, powering ahead year after year as residential construction has continually failed to meet demand. The average house price in London now stands at about CAD807,000. A lack of both private and social housing has led to an affordability crisis, a precursor of other social issues. This trend is also contributing to the expansion of the private rental sector as people increasingly cannot afford home ownership and are often obliged to live outside London and commute to work. This places significant pressure on London’s radial transport corridors, which have become overcrowded.
London’s planning landscape is well-advanced, and in recent years has focused on housing growth, including high-density development around transport nodes. With density previously measured using Public Transport Accessibility, more recent policy changes are proposing to link density to design, with a presumption in favor of development close to transport links.
The New London Plan (drafted in December 2017) recognizes the likely population growth to 2041 and includes a strategic housing target of 65,000 homes a year by then (increased from 49,000 in the adopted London Plan). The plan also includes a target for half of all new homes to be genuinely affordable. However, there is a mechanism in place to allow for a minimum of 35 per cent, as highlighted in the Supplementary Planning Guidance on Affordable Housing and Viability. To encourage the development of affordable housing, the Mayor has recently pledged funding to help London boroughs build 10,000 council homes by 2022.
In recent years, the average rate of construction was about 30,000 homes a year of which only about 20 per cent were affordable, calling into question the achievability of the new, more than doubled, target. Land for development is in short supply and it is thought that there is insufficient capacity to build the number of homes required without interventions to allow, for example, the release of green belt land or building to higher densities.
Much of London’s housing growth is found within Opportunity Areas and Growth Corridors for longer-term delivery. At present about 40 such areas exist across London, the largest being Old Oak Common. The scale of change required the setting up of a Mayoral Development Corporation (MDC) to manage the land assembly, policy and planning process. London may see more of these MDCs being set up to speed up delivery and secure funding because most of these areas need a big investment in transport. New funding mechanisms are being sought that go beyond developer contributions and community infrastructure levies, such as the Mayor’s Crossrail Supplementary Planning Guidance, which has been used to fund Crossrail. It might be used to fund other transport improvements in the future.
In recent years, there have been pressures to release employment or industrial land for housing. The draft London Plan seeks no net loss because of the effect on the economy, meaning that housing and employment needs are in direct competition with a new challenge to collocate and intensify different uses in new development. This is both a design and viability challenge. The focus on protection of employment has been an ongoing issue for local authorities in outer London and outside of London. Councils do not want their localities to become dormitory and often lifeless commuter towns; they want to see jobs and housing provided in mixed-use communities.
For housing needs to be met, development will need to be high-density and mixed-use. If such changes in design and housing standards cannot be achieved, the pressure will undoubtedly grow to release the city’s green belt, a position that is not politically supported now, although green belt release is more common in local authority areas outside of London. Equally, tensions are likely to grow between inner and outer areas when pressure on housing becomes greater in outer London and character and heritage, as well as green space, are under threat.
The draft New London Plan includes quality and standards for indoor and outdoor amenities, dual aspect dwellings and design layout. Smaller dwellings and a different type of rental sector are envisaged as developers look to new models and methods of house building. This has implications for the transient behavior of people now owning their own homes and being potentially more upwardly mobile. The future of housing in London may become more like in continental Europe, where owning a home is less prevalent, and the government owns a greater proportion of social housing. This notion gives weight to the idea that the GLA, Transport for London and other public bodies should play a greater role in providing land and delivering housing for a growing population.
The draft plan will officially become London’s strategy in 2019 to 2020. Whether the strategy is sufficient to cover the rapid increase in population growth that London is predicted to experience remains to be seen.
The London Plan and the Mayor’s Transport Strategy (MTS) are geared towards encouraging more walking and cycling in preference to more mechanized modes, pushing health and wellbeing up the agenda. London has planning controls that govern the quality of streetscape developments in its published Healthy Street Checklist document – a good guidance document. Open spaces strategies and investment are the responsibility of each individual borough, but there does not appear to be an overarching strategy for the city. Therefore, it is unclear if sufficient controls are in place to guarantee the amount and quality of urban space to meet the needs of a growing population, which is at the same time placing pressure on land availability.
Some housing developments are planned in the waterfront areas of the city but many of them are private, and the public realm strategies for these areas are not as established. There have previously been large investments in waterfront areas of the city, such as the Kings Cross Canal area and the Docklands.
Measures in the London Plan and the MTS set a roadmap for imposing more stringent conditions on parking, reducing non-essential private car trips, encouraging more sustainable travel and reducing freight, all of which will help reduce congestion and air pollution. London’s Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZs) are amongst the first in the world, imposing tolls on access by more polluting vehicles in the city’s drive to improve air quality. The City of London has recently been leading on imposing tighter requirements on freight traffic, and more localized measures, such as access restrictions to specific areas, are being implemented by other London boroughs.
Low car and zero car developments are being achieved through restrictions on parking provision imposed through planning consents. The recently refreshed London Plan imposes stricter requirements on the numbers of electric vehicle charging points that new developments must provide, to enable and encourage the use of electric vehicles, and therefore to improve air quality.
London has many fine open spaces. They are typically multifunctional, for ecosystem services and amenity value for residents. Overall, it has been calculated that about 39 per cent of Greater London is open space (18 per cent is designated as such) and 47 per cent is green space, a big part of which is private gardens.
In June 2018, the Mayor of London published his long-term, high-level green strategy for London, with a goal for half of London to be greened, mirroring the draft New London Plan and partly supported by the CAD15.7 million Greener City Fund for strategically important green infrastructure projects. It plans to analyze London’s green spaces with a natural capital calculator and implement a greenness index to target investment.
The draft New London Plan (2017) contains a specific green space strategy in a chapter focused on Green Infrastructure and Natural Environment, which aims to protect and enhance green spaces. The strategy also provides an Urban Greening Factor calculation and there is a commitment to fund this development, although there is a funding gap.
The draft plan also discusses national sites such as nature reserves, only discussing their protection but not plans for expansion.
London’s sustainable drainage systems strategy is a guide indicating how surface water flooding can be minimized, and will become particularly important with climate change. However, this strategy is a future guide and does not consider alterations to current infrastructure.
The draft New London Plan deals with the need for education and childcare facilities and says that boroughs should identify local needs and future sites. Boroughs are encouraged to work together and include possible school sites in Development Plans because education needs will increase by up to 67,000 primary school places and by up to 122,000 secondary school places by 2025. Future developments and extensions to university infrastructure, such as student accommodation, are also discussed in the plan, with the Mayor establishing a forum for the institutions to work with boroughs and stakeholders.
An additional 71,000 childcare places are needed between 2016 and 2041, the plan estimates. Their provision is a duty of the local authorities, although information at this level is limited and implementation plans are not evident.
For healthcare, the New London Plan states that boroughs should work with Clinical Commissioning Groups and other National Health Service and community organizations to address local needs and identify sites for future provision. Five subregional Sustainability and Transformation Plans set out the proposed changes to hospital estates and primary care facilities by 2020 to 2021. These five year plans are renewed on expiry.
To expand cultural assets, the New London Plan aims to diversify the range of night-time activities through extending opening hours of galleries, museums and libraries.
The Mayor’s climate change adaptation strategy, Managing Risks and Increasing Resilience (2011), identifies the risks London faces as changes to both average and extreme weather occur.
London’s old housing stock and critical infrastructure are already under systemic stress, so investment in retrofitting and adaptation will be crucial. The Managing Risks and Increasing Resilience document has focused on strategies that look to both mitigate and adapt. The document’s main adaptation focuses on:
Helping to reduce flood risk in London
Helping the city to cope with droughts through a water supply program
Supporting more green roofs and walls and local green spaces to combat overheating, flooding and drought.
It also discusses how the Mayor will work with London’s business-to-business organizations and Business Improvement Districts to help firms respond to the risks and opportunities presented by climate change and extreme weather.
There are, of course, significant costs tied to implementation of the proposed adaptation schemes and strategies and, although a large slice of funding has already been redistributed to London boroughs to implement this strategy, much more is likely to be necessary. There have been some views expressed that the approach so far relies too much on emergency preparedness rather than ensuring long-term resilience of the capital.
As above, the GLA has recently been looking at how to address the negative effects of the Urban Heat Island (UHI), where the city is significantly warmer than the surrounding countryside, particularly in the evenings. Whilst this is generally not a problem in a temperate climate during the summer, overheating in homes, particularly flats, is increasingly becoming an issue (most homes in London do not have cooling).
Delivering London’s Energy Future Strategy also looks to reduce the capital’s reliability on carbon-intensive energy sources, and sets a target to reduce London’s CO2 emissions by 60 per cent of 1990 levels by 2025. Measures include retrofitting homes and public spaces with better energy efficiency initiatives particularly through the London Green Fund (CAD870 million investment to date). The London Energy Efficiency Fund has also invested CAD190 million in innovative low-carbon projects across London.
The Thames Barrier and its associated estuary flood defense embankments protect London from flooding, including from high sea levels, caused by storm surges in the North Sea. It is now close to the end of its design life in terms of the levels of protection it provides, as sea levels rise and the southeast of England continues to sink gradually.
London’s Strategic Road Network, the extensive London Underground metro system and the bus networks are managed by Transport for London, while the city’s other roads are managed by its boroughs. In 2016, the Mayor of London launched a weekend night tube service; a 24-hour service now runs on five tube lines on Fridays and Saturdays.
Key strategies for transport infrastructure in London include the Mayor’s Transport Strategy and The London Plan, which outline the future transport proposals for London. Although these strategies acknowledge the need for increased capacity and include plans to improve capacity on buses, trains and tubes, it is not clear if this will be sufficient to meet the expected future demand (an extra five million trips a day).
Planning permission for new development might be dependent on public transport planning and provision. London’s aim of 80 per cent of all trips being made by walking, cycling or public transport by 2041 can only be achieved through an increase in modal diversity and an improvement in interchange facilities where sustainable onward journeys are the easiest option. London strategies recognize that coordinated ticketing is crucial and, with the uptake of Oyster and contactless bank cards, cash payment on buses has already ended.
The strategies consider that high-speed railways are under planning and construction, and that HS2, Crossrail and Crossrail 2 need to be fully integrated into the public transport network of London.
Crossrail, the new high-capacity, high-frequency railway line is scheduled to open in 2018, running over 100km from Reading and Heathrow in the west, through central London, to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east. Crossrail 2, which is supported by the Mayor of London, has been endorsed by the National Infrastructure Commission and its case has been acknowledged by the UK Government. Affordability of the scheme is currently under scrutiny in terms of cost and scope, funding and financing.
As a historic city, many of London’s roads are relatively narrow. Freight delivery and construction operations cause congestion, and the city has little spare road capacity. Transport for London (TfL) is taking the lead in addressing these issues and, in addition to support provided by TfL to the London boroughs, the GLA’s infrastructure team is helping key boroughs with logistics planning.
London has traditionally managed freight through a complex series of restrictions, notably the London Lorry Control Scheme, Congestion Charge, and Low Emission Zones. It has also tried to pursue a more positive policy based on working with businesses to improve freight efficiency and remove impact.
TfL has developed a world-leading program of Construction Logistics Plans (CLPs) and provides associated training courses to upskill professionals in the construction industry and in London’s approving authorities. To date, 29 of the 33 London boroughs, which as planning authorities approve and police how developments are implemented, have completed the courses, meaning their boroughs are equipped to ensure CLPs are adequate and developers/constructors fulfil their construction logistics commitments.
Several freight consolidation centers serve London, and there are ambitions for expansion, achievable with the support of boroughs, operators and developers. TfL is encouraging the use of relatively temporary consolidation centers, to complement the permanent ones.
London has plans to move freight to off-peak times and to upgrade rail routes to allow freight to be transported around the city. Transport for London is also encouraging the use of London’s railways and waterways for construction materials and other freight, to reduce congestion and hazard to pedestrians and cyclists.
Finally, the boom in online shopping has seen large increases in the numbers of delivery vans, increasing road congestion. TfL and private companies are developing new methods for ‘last mile’ deliveries, such as local consolidation centers combined with electric vehicles and electric assist cycles.
London is one of the world’s major aviation hubs, served by Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, London Luton and London City Airports. It has recognized the need to expand capacity, and Gatwick and Heathrow airports have campaigned particularly to be the airport that will gain an extra runway. The UK Government has put its support behind Heathrow and plans are progressing to bring about the capacity expansion. Environmental considerations such as noise and air quality feature large in the concerns of residents in areas in and around London, and enhancing connection links to and between the airports is a focus for the promoters and authorities. It has been suggested that the city should also consider increasing capacity at smaller London airports.
London supports the modal shift of freight to water and aims to achieve this shift by improving the connection of other transport modes, including from ports such as Tilbury.
Many current cycle routes are good, with the construction of the new cycle superhighways running from outer London into and across central London expected to be completed this year. More such cycle superhighways are planned. The Strategy Cycle Network to 2041 gives planned routes and future connections as well as aiming to provide more secure, accessible parking.
Pedestrian zone plans are considered in the Pedestrian Safety Action Plan, and extending reduced-speed-limit areas in the future are also mentioned.
The London Strategy acknowledges the importance of balancing the promotion of new developments and preventing excessive car parking provision. A list of parking standards aims to achieve this but current policy is linking parking restrictions to polluting vehicles, not the accessibility of public transport. A growing trend has been detected in London, particularly among younger adults, of not owning a car. It has even been suggested that in the next 15 years cars could be banned from central London as it runs out of road space.
FUTURE MOBILITY: SERVICES
FUTURE MOBILITY: SERVICES
London is being proactive in encouraging new mobility services and in developing appropriate regulation, to deliver positive outcomes for Londoners.
London’s environment encourages innovation. TfL’s Director of Transport Innovation has described TfL’s approach to future mobility as being ‘pro-innovation’, encouraging testing and growth of new mobility business models.
TfL will intervene where they see an innovation is not delivering good outcomes for consumers, or where an initiative contravenes TfL’s policies (e.g. the development of a code of practice for bike share operators). London is at the forefront of how open data is harvested to enable mobility services: TfL makes its data available to app developers and similar for them to develop new services such as Citymapper.
In London a first wave of disruption was through ride sourcing on the taxi market. A less disruptive arrival is now being seen with the introduction of on-demand minibus services, with policy recognizing that, with the right application, they can be a key tool in reducing private car ownership.
Trial smart bus routes in London have led to City mapper’s SmartRide, a real time, demand-responsive hybrid bus and taxi service, which currently serves a core central area. Data from its multimodal app, which itself draws on open source data made available by TfL, enables the company to fill transport network gaps. The potential of demand-responsive buses is also being investigated, with several operators testing the market.
Uber already provides ride sourcing services, and Daimler AG and Via recently started providing them in London. Many car club companies operate in London, and the Car Club Coalition aims for one million members by 2025 through the implementation of the London Car Club Strategy.
Future mobility transport technology is the subject of pilot studies in London, although there is no strategy yet for a widespread rollout. The Smart Mobility Living Lab is a new urban test-bed for self-driving technology in two London locations.
The potential for waterways, rail, consolidation centers and small electric vehicles (EVs), combined with web-based coordination and technology, to reduce road freight traffic is recognized, and TfL is actively encouraging all these avenues.
EV numbers exceed the 1,500 charging points in London but there are ambitions for 2,000 EVs by the end of 2020, and policies for one in five spaces to provide charging, may help lift the uptake. One problem is that about 60 per cent of London residents do not have a driveway or garage, restricting them to using on-street parking for EV charging. Access to sufficient grid electricity to serve public rapid charging points and electric vehicle fleet operations is necessary but currently expensive. Access is often difficult to achieve, and has led to alternatives such as smart charging solutions being explored.
London’s historical layout of streets, not in a convenient grid pattern, is likely to stretch the capabilities of self-driving vehicles, and may limit widespread early adoption. Nevertheless, 5AI, a UK-based technology firm that provides self-driving platforms, has recently announced it will be bringing a self-driving taxi to the London market by 2021.
Like many UK cities London already has extensive urban traffic control systems will be important in realizing the most benefit from self-driving vehicles.
The Mayor of London highlighted the importance of developing London’s digital infrastructure, and has recently appointed a Chief Digital Officer. Despite publication of the Smart London Plan, and engagement with various stakeholders on delivering on these ambitions to make London a smart city, more will be required to deliver a future ready digital infrastructure.
FIXED INTERNET: SPEEDS & FEEDS
FIXED INTERNET: SPEEDS & FEEDS
At present, 77 per cent of London households do not have an ultra-fast broadband connection. London is now included in the first phase of BT Openreach’s Fiber First program, which is tied to the national Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund (DIIF). The fund aims to increase the number of homes with Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) services in the UK. Although this strategy has funding from HM Treasury, other European cities are further advanced in this area, as well as in terms of connectivity ratios. Questions have been raised as to whether the funding will be sufficient.
MOBILE INTERNET: WI-FI, 5G, NARROWBAND IOT
MOBILE INTERNET: WI-FI, 5G, NARROWBAND IOT
Smarter London Together is the Mayor of London’s 2018 ‘roadmap to transform London into the smartest city in the world’. It aims to coordinate connectivity and 5G projects, enhance public Wi-Fi in streets and public buildings, and support a new generation of smart infrastructure through major combined procurements. With London’s Chief Digital Officer now appointed, these strategies for the widespread expansion of Wi-Fi, high speed internet and 5G communications technologies in London are being developed and progressively funded. There is a national level strategy that indicates the need to expand connectivity across the country.
The Greater London Authority already makes data available to all citizens via the London Datastore, a free and open data-sharing portal where anyone can access data (currently 739 datasets) relating to London. In 2015 it won the international ODI Open Data Award. As well as data, the London Datastore offers apps and analysis, acts as a platform for data science projects, and helps bring London’s boroughs together to solve city-wide problems. TfL also offers a range of open data feeds for free, available to developers of journey planning, transport, mapping and other apps.
INFORMATION & DATA SECURITY
INFORMATION & DATA SECURITY
As with all UK cities, London is covered by the new information and data security law — the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) — which came into effect on 25 May 2018.
PLANNING & POLICY
PLANNING & POLICY
The development of communications infrastructure in London is now specifically addressed in the Mayor of London’s Smarter London Together roadmap, and there is a national strategy to increase communications infrastructure (for example, under the DIFF). Funding is not all currently in place and is being assembled progressively.
London’s Climate Change Mitigation and Energy Strategy contains projections for renewable energy technology installations up to 2031, and supplementary planning guidance supports these projections. The Decentralized Energy Capacity Study investigated renewable energy potential in London, although no funding measures to implement these technologies were included.
Ofgem’s Smart Cities Program aims to pilot smart grid technologies and accelerate deployment of smart meters. The Mayor has also set a target to generate a quarter of London’s energy from decentralized sources by 2025, through three main policy frameworks: identification of energy opportunities, their delivery through the planning system and enabling commercialization of a decentralized energy market. Despite this policy framework, regulations are not favorable because transmission and distribution networks impose access charges that are relatively high and reduce the viability of investment schemes.
The new London Plan sets out a refocus to energy generation around heat pumps (including using secondary heat sources) and a move away from gas heating (as recommended in a WSP 2014 report), which will increase local generation for individuals and businesses, and reduce air pollution and CO2 emissions.
The chalk aquifer underlying London and the Thames Basin provides public drinking water. It is under threat from climate change effects of sea level rise, greater temperature fluctuations and repeated dry winters, as well as from growing urbanization.
Thames Water, London’s main water supplier, has forecast demand as far ahead as 2100, and published its preferred plan for the period up to 2100. The plan includes a strategy to combine demand management and leakage control with resource scheme development, to secure long-term resilience. It draws on research assessing the potential effects of non-linearity in the onset of climate change impacts and extends out into Wiltshire and Oxfordshire, counties connected to the aquifer.
There are Water Resource Management Plans in place for each water company serving London. They cover future growth in supply and demand, climate change, reduction of leakage and promotion of water efficiency during the next 25 years. The Thames Estuary 2100 Project and Flood Risk Plan published in 2009 also suggest actions needed in the short, medium and long term for management of flood risk on the tidal Thames.
London’s desalination plant has been in place since 2011 and was funded by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Environment Agency. Additional desalination plant capacity is expected to be required in future. Water treatment development has included Thames Water implementing a storage and transfer project in which two tunnels can collect, discharge and treat wastewater, aiming to tackle the issue of sewer overflows during the next 100 years. The first has already been constructed; the other is in the process of securing funding.
Water quality is already high in London and there are no plans to improve it further, but the protection of the quality of waterways is included in the city plan.
London’s Boroughs are responsible for providing local waste and recycling collections and procuring processing and treatment of the waste and recyclable material collected. They are actively seeking to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.
There are several London regional waste authorities: groups of boroughs collaborate and designate the amount of land they need to receive, treat and remove waste. They contribute these forecasts to the London Plan and the GLA decides whether they are sufficient, although there is now a move towards a London-wide approach.
The London Plan includes plans to increase the capacity of existing waste separation and recycling infrastructure and the building of new sites, although they are still in the pipeline. There is no overall strategy for landfill remediation, although future proposals must be considered in line with the London Environment Strategy and landfill remediation is still taking place, for example on the Olympic Park site.
Recycling is encouraged, with targets in place, but there are no bans in place to control the generation of waste. Additionally, the support of material reuse is clear through promoting the circular economy, particularly demolition and building material reuse.