Our predictions for London in 2016
The start of a new year is a time in many cultures for the setting of New Year resolutions and for making predictions about the year to come. So, in that spirit, our Cities team in London have identified what we see as the five hot topics for London in 2016.
First, this is mayoral election year, and the voting in May is likely to mean a year of two halves. The first half will be strong on the candidates positioning with regard to policy, but low on much else, even from central Government. However, in the second half of the year we should expect a flurry of decisions on some big ticket items, including Heathrow and Gatwick. As importantly, we think this will also set the tone nationally, with either a resurgent Labour challenging the Government at every turn on spending policies, or emboldened Conservatives pushing through more small Government initiatives.
Second, as with many cities around the world, housing supply and affordability is very high on the political and social agenda. This is not new. However, what we think will be new in 2016 is the growing realisation across the political spectrum in the UK that housing is essential infrastructure, like transport or power. As such, we can expect even more central and local government intervention in the sector. That said, we shouldn’t expect harmony on the issue, as the nature and direction of that intervention will be very different depending on who is the new mayor.
We foresee acceptance by everyone that Euston simply doesn’t work as terminus for HS2, and in parallel, a review of the alignment for Crossrail 2.
Third, this might just be the start of some joined up thinking at the interface between national, regional and local transport issues where they crash headlong together in our capital. We foresee acceptance by everyone that Euston simply doesn’t work as terminus for HS2, and in parallel, a review of the alignment for Crossrail 2. Throw into the mix a possible go decision on Heathrow, and concerns over the deliverability of redevelopment at Old Oak Common due to an absence of land that doesn’t have a rail line on it, and you get an opportunity to do some genuine joined up re-thinking. The Infrastructure Commission could be the catalyst that means this happens. But we predict depoliticising infrastructure decisions may not be as easy as some have suggested.
Fourth, we see Thames Bridge mania growing in intensity, with tolling, pedestrian and/or bus only, green, and swing varieties all expected. There may even be the odd tunnel. The Thames increasingly lies at the heart of the city as the South Bank and the East Thames Corridor become the focuses for growth, and we see the river taking centre stage in 2016.
Finally, we need to talk jobs and employment. Recent growth in London has been about both push from other cities in Europe and pull from London. We could see that all starting to change in 2016. First, the economic problems that been impacting on much of the Eurozone in recent years might finally ease, and this could trigger an out flow of young Europeans back to their home countries. Further, while the European Referendum doesn’t need to be held until 2017, we might still see it in 2016, and either way this issue will dominate the political agenda. As the position becomes clearer, and if the mood appears to be for “Brexit”, we can expect a push away from London by some businesses.
Perhaps the biggest change will be a move away from avoiding the big issues that we need to address if London is to maintain its position as one of the world’s leading cities
Given all the above, perhaps the biggest change will be a move away from avoiding the big issues that we need to address if London is to maintain its position as one of the world’s leading cities, and the start of some genuine decision making that clears the way for action. Now, that really would be something new.