Examination of Witnesses (Questions 310-329)|
TUESDAY 29 JANUARY 2002
310. I am sorry to bring you back to what you
have said but in Policy Guidelines, the document that you have
provided to us, it says towards the London Plan, "The Mayor
has placed London world city functions firmly at the centre".
Then it says, "a wide range of locations", and it goes
on to list them on Canary Wharf, parts of Westminster, new locations
such as Paddington and eventually Victoria, London Bridge and
Waterloo. So I ask you again: do you intend to regard existing
railway stations, particularly in view of what you say in this
document about the importance of keeping Railtrack on board which
is not what you say but is what it means, as suitable for very
tall buildings and for redevelopment?
(Mr Livingstone) Each site has to be looked at differently.
At Victoria I would take a lot of persuading to see any building
above 20 storeys.
311. So you did not actually mean it?
(Mr Livingstone) 20 storeys is a tall building in
Victoria. These things are in the context of their site, whereas
Renzo Piano's Tower may come in at slightly over 60 storeys at
London Bridge, where it will not be out of context. It will not
have the same impact as it would do in Victoria.
(Mr Livingstone) That is more of a problem because
it impacts clearly on this world heritage site so you would look
at that sensitively, but you need to see what scheme is coming
up and the architects need to know. They are likely to be rejected
if they come up with something that does not enhance the whole
313. St Pancras?
(Mr Livingstone) St Pancras has the problem, and King's
Cross, that they are right smack in the centre of the historic
views from Primrose Hill and Hampstead Heath down to here and
314. So they can be seen from Hampstead?
(Mr Livingstone) This will be a decision that is influenced
largely by Campden Council. I discussed with the leadership what
we should do in terms of heights on the site and their view is
that Campden Council would reject anything that impinged on those
views, and I have to respect the decision of the local authority
in that area, so I expect some very dense development but not
of great height. I regret that because I think you could sustain
315. Taking you to the transport implications
of what you are doing, you are talking about building a number
of major new office buildings around London, each of which will
absorb fairly large numbers of workers, yet we have a public transport
system in London bursting at the seams already. How is that going
(Mr Livingstone) This office development planning
policy only worksand forget height; it is just the extra
half a million jobsif we get the transport infrastructure
to go with it. In the short term, the expansion of the bus system
will take the strain but, unless we get the completion of Thameslink
2000, Crossrail 1, the East London line and, hopefully, Crossrail
2, I should imagine this could be sustained without Crossrail
2 but without those three developments it would be a nightmare.
Without a serious and rapid upgrading of the quality of service
provided by the Underground as well, it would be a problem.
316. You say in the short term the bus system
would be able to take the strain and you would be putting a lot
of improvements to the bus network and you are hoping the congestion
charging will free up central London buses but, given the nature
of the buildings you are putting up and are being asked to take
decisions on, a lot of those people are not going to live in central
London. A significant number are going to come in from the outer
suburbs or beyond the boundaries of London, so the issue is as
much about capacity on the routes into London as about improving
the bus network in the centre. Are you going to have an enormous
problem getting those people into London?
(Mr Livingstone) If none of those rail schemes went
ahead this would become a explosive situation but we are very
close to agreeing a funding package on the East London line: I
am confident that we will have a funding agreement with the government
over the next year on Crossrail: we are exploring all the options,
and a similar approach when Thameslink 2000 comes through, but
if the government was to say to me now, "None of these projects
would be built", one would have to say much of this development
in terms of half a million new business services and jobs would
not come to central London. The pattern of the last 25 years is
that employment, contrary to everything socialists like myself
would like to see about dispersal, has concentrated in the centre.
The 600,000 jobs we lost in manufacturing was scattered fairly
evenly across the boroughs; the concentration of business services
and jobs was absolutely at the core. In the last decade 62 per
cent of all new employment in London has happened between Kensington
and Canary Wharf, with the sole exception of Barnet, the only
non-core borough to see a substantial increase, and the only other
borough I should mention is based on the airport at Hillingdon.
Apart from Hillingdon and Barnet, however, the core of all new
employment creation has been generated at the centre.
317. I have two basic points on what you say
about that. One is Crossrail. The Strategic Rail Authority plan
is a 2010-and beyond project. These planning applications are
on your desk today. Likewise, Thameslink 2000 may increase the
throughput of trains through London, but it does not actually
increase the number of trains coming from London into the top
filtration points and the bottom filtration points, so you are
not getting more suburban services as a result. Given that, you
have buildings that are likely to be built over the course of
the next five years, but we have transport improvements which
will not deliver extra services or are ten or 15 years away. Are
we not going to have a major problem in the shorter term?
(Mr Livingstone) Yes, the Strategic Rail Authority
has not been directly involved in the development. It is involved
now in terms of Crossrail, but certainly this is something which
was pushed for very strongly by my office since the election,
and we are making very good progress between myself and the Minister
of Transport, John Spellar. We have agreed a shortlist of routes
for the non-core section of Crossrail, which goes out to public
consultation in a few weeks. We expect a final decision on the
route by the end of the year. I am hopeful. The Government has
to decide whether it sees a Transport Works Act or a Hybrid Bill,
but I am hopeful it will be a Hybrid Bill, so that we could have
the parliamentary process cleared by the end of 2003 or early
2004, and we are looking for construction to finish by 2011.
318. So you are saying the SRA plan is wrong
where it says it does not matter?
(Mr Livingstone) Richard Bowker of the SRA sits with
me on the committee with the Minister of Transport. That is the
strategy we have agreed. I think he would say that his strategic
rail ten-year plan is about their plans. This is a joint vehicle
between TFL and the Strategic Rail Authority. It is outside the
funding stream, which is why there is discussion between myself
and the Government about the various options, about how we pay
for it. We are preparing a plan to say that a substantial proportion
of the costs should be borne by a levy on the landowners in the
area whose property values will soar. We now know that following
the construction of the Jubilee line land values soared in the
immediate vicinity of stations by 400 per cent. Clearly that is
something that should be tapped into in order to construct these
major civil engineering projects.
319. How do you realise that in cash terms?
I saw a paper on this recently which looked at all the land gain
around the Jubilee line, but how do you actually realise it? If
somebody owns a building today and they own a building tomorrow,
and between today and tomorrow a nice new rail line has been opened,
unless they sell that building then there is no cash ever realised
which you can fairly levy, is there?
(Mr Livingstone) We are working on a paper for submission
to John Spellar. Do not forget, that is only one option. There
is the question of whether or not there is a bond issue. The Deputy
Prime Minister did say in the last Parliament that Crossrail could
be a candidate for bond option. I would have no objection to a
PFI. The important part is just getting it built. The funding
mechanism is secondary to that overall drive.
320. The reason I was pressing you about specific
schemes is that there have been reports that plans to develop
the eastern end of Bishopsgate have been put on the backburner
because it is not possible to construct a new Central line station
there that is near the Central line. Is that true?
(Mr Livingstone) I do not understand. What we are
planning to do at Bishopsgate is that the East London line runs
through the development. There is currently a debate about this
and I think English Heritage has asked to list the whole site.
I have made strong representations against that. Clearly the Braithwaite
arches could be listed, and I think they are valuable, but the
rest of the site I think is of a very different order. I would
be surprised if there was some listing which went there. The East
London line will go through Bishopsgate goods yard. We are currently
discussing this with the Government, because the initial thinking
was that we would have four-car trains; clearly now, with the
prospect of a major interchange at Whitechapel with Crossrail
and the scale of development coming in in the Thames Gateway,
we think that justifies eight-car trains.
(Mr Dolphin) The capacity problem on the Central line
would be relieved by the construction of Crossrail. It is at that
point that the plans for a station at Bishopsgate goods yard on
the Central line could be put into play with an interchange with
the East London line.
321. There are some suggestions that great movements
of industry end up building buildings that are out of date. Looking
at big textile mills in the north of England, a lot of them were
built just about when the textile industry needed something different,
and some of the big railway stations. Is there not a danger that
all these tall buildings in London might just arrive at a point
when electronic commerce really means that we do not need this
sort of concentration?
(Mr Livingstone) Broadly I have been reading for 35
years that technology would mean that the modern office is no
longer required. I have to say that I see no evidence that any
of those predictions has actually been borne out. As London develops
as a global finance centre, it clearly does seem to be the case
that the business community does not consider electronic communication
or no doubt holographic projections, which must be just down the
road, as a substitute for meeting in a room with the people with
whom you are doing multi-million pound deals.
322. So you think that in 20 years' time people
will be able to look round the skyscrape of London, see all these
buildings and refer to them as "Livingstone's towers"
rather than "Livingstone's folly"?
(Mr Livingstone) I suspect that in 20 years' time
people will have trouble remembering who I am!
Mrs Dunwoody: We all doubt that. We are so pleased
to see this new streak of humility!
Chairman: On that note, can I thank you very
much for your evidence.