Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 7060 - 7079)

  7060. MR CAMERON: I cannot promise that because I do not know whether those figures in the London Plan can be broken down to the Belvedere/Erith area. I appreciate that that is what would assist the Committee most, but this is the best that we have been able to do in the time available. We will try and do that, but I cannot promise it.

  7061. BARONESS FOOKES: Understood. I wonder if I could raise a related but different point from the one we have been discussing at some length. There is considerable mention of new jobs and better jobs. I am not clear about the details of this. What kind of jobs are they going to be and what likelihood is there of being able to attract them? I say this because for some years I was a Member of Parliament in the West Country where they were desperately trying to attract new jobs to replace a shrinkage in the naval dockyard in Plymouth and related defence activities. It was not easy and I just wonder how easy it would be to produce these jobs and what type of jobs you are hoping to attract.

   (Mr Donovan) I would agree with you that it is not easy. The jobs that are coming forward at the moment certainly, as I was saying earlier, around warehousing logistics are there and those are what you would expect in a sense to support the London economy as a whole.

  7062. They are low-skilled, low-paid relatively, are they not?

   (Mr Donovan) They are relatively low-skilled, relatively low-paid. Part of, if I may say, the sort of Thames Gateway project is to try and balance that with some higher-quality jobs and, in a way, located between Ebbsfleet and the Royal Docks and Canary Wharf where Bexley is and, especially with the Crossrail link, there is an opportunity to get more of those kinds of jobs in place. One comparison I would draw is of an area like Crossways at Dartford which is a mix of a business park right next to the Dartford Crossing on the Dartford side. Now, when that first opened, it had things like a ro-ro item for warehousing, it had some warehouse uses and it was relatively low-skilled exactly as we were describing, but over the last five or six years, because of things like Bluewater, because of the potential of Ebbsfleet, not the existence, but the potential, gradually that is being complemented by office jobs, complemented by higher-skilled jobs, complemented by the knowledge economy and innovation. What we are trying to do in Bexley and elsewhere in this part of the Thames Gateway is to try and get those types of jobs in. Now, it is not easy and you do not just sort of do it, but the Thames Gateway has to be about trying to get that balance, so we have got an innovation centre which is particularly about looking at markets throughout Europe and looking further than that, and we have links into Israel, we have some links into America, to see, if you have high-technology jobs that want to come into London, maybe not wanting to pay Docklands prices or City prices, but who want to be in London, whether they would actually consider Thames Gateway. It is part of the building and changing economic profile of the Thames Gateway that we are trying to do and of course it is difficult to be precise because this is looking ahead over the next 20 years to see how we can get the change in place. If we do nothing, if I turn it round, then what we would end up with would be an awful lot of housing and an awful lot of logistics-based employment, and it is a case of trying to make the best opportunity to intervene to widen that scope of jobs.

  7063. But you are not going to look particularly to manufacturing jobs which on the whole are in decline, are they not, in the country as a whole?

   (Mr Donovan) Exactly right. We have managed in Bexley to keep a number of sites available, and which are now active, for manufacturing, so there are quite a lot of manufacturing uses at the moment. The approach to that is not to seek to get rid of them, but to seek to encourage them and keep them, where possible, it is to locate them in key places well away from residential areas, as we have done, and to kind of acknowledge the point that London still probably needs to have an element of manufacturing and we may well have got close to the floor. If we actually keep the manufacturing we have got, then Belvedere in north Bexley is likely to be one of the places it is going to be.

  7064. And you have ample sites, I gather.

   (Mr Donovan) Yes, brownfield sites, and we have secured with the Mayor's agreement and with the Government's agreement that we will keep the heartland of our employment areas for employment uses, so we can identify clear areas and particularly, as you would imagine, with the geography of south-east London where there are non-conforming employment uses where we are quite happy to see those go for housing, but the heartland of our employment area, which is mostly in the north of the borough with one other location down in the south-east, we are retaining for employment jobs and, through time, to change the nature of it.

  7065. Are you able to offer any particular incentives as a borough to would-be investment?

   (Mr Donovan) As a borough, no, we lose out on lots of the grant settlements. We have been successful in working with the London Development Agency and with communities and local government to bring in regeneration money to help address some of the issues around image because, if it is going to be private sector investment, it is trying to create the climate for that private sector investment. I suppose in a sense that is what this discussion is about this morning because improved public transport and certainly the perception that will go with something like Crossrail would be seen as useful for that turnaround. In fairness, the Crossways example I was using earlier had not had a lot more public transport in it until the Thames Transit came there, the transit system now that links all the stations through the employment areas, linked into housing, Fast Track. That actually had to some degree done that and they have got some improvements with public transport there and Crossrail would also in not only north Bexley, but the whole of that swathe out to Ebbsfleet, and it would mean that we could benefit from what is going on in Ebbsfleet and the feeder locations because quite often the primary office locations, as you know, or other locations which are near it can have feeder things into it.

  7066. But you are hoping that investment will be attracted by an area which looks as though it is on the up and up rather than on the way down?

   (Mr Donovan) Yes, that is exactly right.

  7067. MR CAMERON: Mr Donovan, can we go to page 49 please and just explain to us what this table shows.[35]36 It is a comparison between Crossrail at Abbey Wood and Crossrail at Belvedere and, just so that it is plain, Belvedere would just be one of the stops on the way to Ebbsfleet just taken as an example. Have I understood that correctly?

  (Mr Donovan) Yes, that is right.

  7068. This is really showing how the catchment area of the population, the catchment area of the location would vary, so in column 2 we have the population with Crossrail at Abbey Wood, Crossrail at Belvedere and increases due to Crossrail on the population, and then the working population subset of that and then tied into that the employment. What it is really saying is that, if you were to be able to take Crossrail east of Belvedere, you would significantly increase the catchment area and the accessibility because you are actually improving the journey time in both directions, whereas, if Crossrail got to Abbey Wood, there would be some improvement, but it would not be as much.

  7069. When you said "east of Belvedere", did you mean east of Abbey Wood?

   (Mr Donovan) East of Abbey Wood, yes.

  7070. So for people's (a) ability to get jobs and (b) ability to set up businesses and attract employees, what are the consequences for those two aspects?

   (Mr Donovan) In essence, it is the same thing for both, but in order to get access to jobs, you want as many opportunities as you can have and the more you can access a range of jobs by public transport, the more opportunity there is that you will be able to get a job that fits and suits your skills. Similarly, if you are a business setting up, you want to attract a large number of people from as wide a time catchment as possible. Obviously we are not talking about distance, but we are talking about the time it takes to travel and it would be very attractive to businesses in north Bexley and through to north Dartford if they are able to access the wider catchment time that Crossrail going right the way down through to Ebbsfleet would give rather than stopping at Abbey Wood.

  7071. So the difference in terms of population is 2.9 million and increase in accessibility is 45 minutes?

   (Mr Donovan) Yes, that is right.

  7072. If we turn over the page, I think that is just a map which sets out the same points.
  (Mr Donovan) Yes, and slide 50 just shows that in a graphic form where the green is the current accessibility, the blue would be what would happen if you effectively went from Belvedere, changed at Abbey Wood and then went out and vice versa, and then the red together with the blue would give you the overall picture of accessibility if you actually were to run Crossrail east of Abbey Wood.[36]37

  7073. So that is the practical effect of having a 15-minute time penalty one way?

   (Mr Donovan) Yes.

  7074. BARONESS FOOKES: I am not sure I am totally clear about what is meant by "employment opportunities". It is this fourth column on page 49.

   (Mr Donovan) Those would be the number of existing and projected jobs that would be generated within that catchment area or within the different catchment areas, so, because it is a fixed time, it is a 45-minute travel time, obviously, as you improve the accessibility, you can get to more jobs in that 45 minutes.

  7075. So that fourth column means jobs?

   (Mr Donovan) Yes.

  7076. MR CAMERON: So, if you live in Belvedere and if you are prepared to travel 45 minutes, instead of being able to get access to 2.2 million jobs, you have access to 2.75 million? Have I understood that?

   (Mr Donovan) Yes, that is correct.

  7077. If we can then move on to those journey times, there is a series of exhibits, support from other local authorities, and I do not ask you to turn to those, but the explanation for including those letters is that the suggestion is that the line be extended to Ebbsfleet and that covers local authority areas other than Bexley.

   (Mr Donovan) That is correct.

  7078. CHAIRMAN: I do not think you need to go into that. I am sure we can assume that they will all say yes.

  7079. MR CAMERON: In broad terms, they do, my Lord, but I do not want to mislead you. There are differences as to where precisely the terminus should be which is one of the reasons why we are seeking to bring in the amendment so that that issue could be resolved by a resolution of both Houses rather than a protracted inquiry.

35   36 Committee Ref: A35, Population & Employment west of Belvedere (5) (BEXYLB-44_05A-049) Back

36   37 Committee Ref: A35, Population & Employment west of Belvedere (6) (BEXYLB-44_05A-050 Back

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