London Build 2018\

Harbinder Birdi participated in a panel discussion at London Build 2018, speculating on the future of infrastructure and transport in London. The discussion gave rise to a series of key themes for the future of London’s infrastructure.

Does the technology exist?

Current technological trends show an increasing shift towards shared vehicle services such as Uber. In order to achieve TfL’s ambition for 80% of journeys to be made using public transport by 2041, the government must appreciate the value of this technology and it’s potential to influence public infrastructure design.

Given the Mayor’s commitment to improving air quality throughout the city, electrifying our infrastructure is a step in the right direction. However, it will only work if the public assume a collective responsibility and evaluate personal choices of transportation.

Can we solve the housing shortage?

The regeneration of transport nodes offers scope for new housing, supporting The London Plan’s target to build 65,000 per year. The high capital cost and land constraints of such projects, however, results in premium cost housing, pushing affordable housing to the peripheries.

Tottenham Court Road Station, a busy transport node that creates new housing through the over-site development.

Who will pay for this growth?

At present, 74% of infrastructure projects are delivered over budget due to escalated construction costs. The inherent cost risk means that the future of public infrastructure is reliant on third party funding, but this involvement must be actively controlled.

Will nationalising our railways really work?

The National Infrastructure Plan is arguably too complicated, looking at large scale ambitions like nationalising the railway. The future of our city relies on a separate London Infrastructure Plan, which allows more detailed studies of individual conurbations.

Conceptual sketch of The Lewisham Link, a sustainable transport interchange where spaces are connected by a series of healthy streets that integrate walking, cycling and public transport routes.

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