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Roads to Nowhere

How long will the Chancellor’s London plans last?

Former campaigner's picture

1 December: National and London government joined forces to puff up transport proposals in the Autumn Statement. But within a couple of days the hot air already seems to have escaped.

The day before Wednesday’s Autumn Statement, the Mayor and the Chancellor of the Exchequer went on TV news to say that the Government would support the scheme to extend the Northern Line to Nine Elms and the huge development at Battersea Power Station. Pictures of a building site in the background implied that construction was already underway.

But all the Government actually agreed to do was to ‘consider’ allowing the Mayor to borrow against future tax receipts to support the scheme, subject to a commitment by a developer to develop the site and make the agreed contributions. By Thursday it had been announced that Battersea Power Station was going into receivership. Clearly the agreed contributions will not be forthcoming.

The Government also ‘gave its support’ to new crossings of the Thames. The Autumn Statement was vague. Silvertown, a third Blackwall road tunnel, was mentioned as was an additional crossing for the M25 at Dartford. The Evening Standard reported that another, probably also a road bridge, would be at Gallions Reach - the site of the Thames Gateway Bridge rejected by the Inspector following a public inquiry four years ago.

The Mayor was quoted as saying that three more river crossings would "unlock untold potential" in East London and boost growth. This wasn’t the view of the Inspector who concluded that there was no reliable measure of the consequences of the Bridge for the economy and indeed that it would increase deprivation.

None of these are new proposals. All the schemes are already in the Mayor’s Transport Strategy and Spatial Plan. But they have neither the funding nor planning approval needed to start work and, despite the Chancellor’s statement, they still don’t.

A guest blog by our London Campaigner Richard Bourn