The Mayor’s Outer London Commission: Report

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Colin Stanbridge, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Cllr Mike Fisher, LB Croydon (nominated by London Councils)

Cllr Clyde Loakes, LB Waltham Forest (nominated by London Councils)

Cllr Serge Lourie, LB Richmond-upon-Thames (nominated by London Councils)

Robert Heskett, Land Securities

Tony Pidgley, Berkeley Group

Nigel Keen, John Lewis Partnership

Peter Eversden, London Forum of Amenity and Civic Societies

Corinne Swain, Arup

Professor Ian Gordon, London School of Economics

Peter Rogers/Peter Bishop, London Development Agency

Peter Hendy/Michele Dix, Transport for London

Secretariat: John Lett, Rob Coward, Hannah Phillips (GLA), Peter Wright (TfL).

Terms of Reference

1.10 The Mayor set the Commission the following terms of reference:

“Identify the extent to which outer London has unrealised potential to contribute to London’s economic success, identify the factors which are holding it back and recommend policies and proposals for the future development of outer London to the Mayor for inclusion in the London Plan and other GLA group strategies and guidance. These should include:

• Ways of encouraging employment growth in outer London.

• Ways of identifying, and supporting the development of economic growth hubs in outer London.

• The role of town centres and town centre based initiatives such as business improvement districts and town centre partnerships.

• The role that heritage and urban design issues might play.

• The links between housing, retail, office based and other types of employment and development in outer London.

• Links between economic success and improving quality of life in outer London, and ways of managing these effectively.

• Infrastructure and other supporting investment required to support economic growth in outer London.

• Methods of funding such infrastructure and investment.

• Identify issues that are presented by the relationship between outer, inner and central London.

1.11 The Commission was also requested to make general and place specific recommendations about implementing the policies and initiatives, including:

• Improving the current arrangements for sub- regional working.

• Encouraging more effective joint action by boroughs, the GLA Group, other public sector agencies and the private and not- for- profit sectors.

• Ways to make public, private and third sector partnerships to secure investment and development in outer London more effective.

• Establishing more effective communication with neighbouring regions to secure coordinated economic development of outer London and neighbouring parts of the wider metropolitan area.

Definition of Outer London:

The definition of outer London used by the OLC was based on that used by the GLA in the initial preparation of the London Plan . It includes the following boroughs: Barking & Dagenham, Barnet, Bexley, Brent, Bromley, Croydon, Ealing, Enfield, Haringey, Harrow, Havering, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Kingston upon Thames, Merton, Newham, Redbridge, Richmond upon Thames, Sutton and Waltham Forest.

Compared to the GLA definition of outer London the ONS definition includes Greenwich but excludes Newham and Haringey. It should be noted that following the consultation undertaken by the OLC, in particular representation by Newham regarding the dominant characteristics of the borough, the definition of outer London changed to reclassify Newham as part of inner London (see Figure 1.3).

Figure 1.3 Definition of outer London (as amended)

This report

1.12 Following the “survey – analysis – plan” approach, this report is divided into sections as outlined below:

Chapter 2: ”Survey” summarises key parts of the evidence gathered by the Commission and taken into account in its work. It briefly outlines the historic background to the development of the outer London economy and highlights elements of the Commission’s evidence base relating to its size and importance, its role in the wider London economy, its structure and geography. It also sets out information about outer London’s workforce and its resources of land and investment

Chapter 3: “Analysis” draws on the evidence in the previous chapter to develop recommendations and proposals. It examines:

• The possible scale of economic growth in outer London

• The kinds of economic sectors that might support growth in the area

• The case for a hub-based approach to policy

• Ways of making the existing economic geography of outer London – town centres, strategic industrial locations, Opportunity/Intensification Areas etc. work better to support growth in outer London

• The importance of quality of life and environmental quality issues

• The question of linkages with neighbouring regions outside London and the “outer metropolitan area”

• Transport issues that will have to be addressed. : Existing policy approaches and drivers of economic success, including the historic approach of the London Plan and development of London, the current economic recession, additional analysis for transport and land use options and economic viability.

Chapter 4: “Plan”/Recommendations – sets out our final conclusions and recommendations:

This is followed by a list of key references used in preparing the report, together with a series of Annexes providing further information.

2: Survey


2.1 This chapter of the report seeks to briefly summarise the evidence which the Commission gathered or had access to. With such a complex and broad ranging array of material there is no single, simple methodology for presenting it. The pragmatic response has been to briefly describe the main sources of information used and then, to set the scene, sketch a potted history of outer London. This is followed by largely statistical outlines of the key issues considered by the Commission, broken down broadly by those which are ‘demand side’ (output, employment, businesses) and ‘supply side’ (population and workforce). In the world of planning (rather than economics) there can be considerable overlap between the two, but the distinction has been made to help the reader. This is complemented by sections on housing, transport, and ‘quality of life’ and, by way of synthesis, one which explores possible future trends in the outer London economy and another summarising what key stakeholders thought of its economic past and see for its future.


2.2 The Commission was able to draw, and reach its own conclusions, on a wealth of published studies on London, some dealing with London as a whole but touching, sometimes in depth, on outer London e.g. Jerry White’s opus on London in the 20th century1; others dealing with outer London as a geographic entity2 and some dealing with specific themes3. Also important were broader studies, such as thematic analysis, for example that by Sir Peter Hall and Cathy Pain on ‘polycentricity’4 and that by the Solutions team5 on sustainable development. The work of the ‘London Group’6 of academics was particularly illuminating.

2.3 Of more immediate interest were the reports by Robin Thompson7 and the London Assembly8 prepared to inform the 2008 edition of the Plan. These showed what had previously been addressed in this context (the Commission had no wish to reinvent the research wheel), and also what had not, or perhaps more pertinently, not in the way in which the Commission’s brief was cast.

2.4 Where the Commission was able to add a new dimension was in engaging with the key stakeholders in the London economy to find out what they thought were the key opportunities and challenges it faced and how they might be addressed (see Chapter 1 of this report for methodology). The contributors to this process are noted in Annex 8 and their responses briefly summarised below. These, and, the evidence they submitted to the Commission, are available on the Commission’s website9.

2.5 The Commission sought to assess these views, and its own, through independent analysis. This work was undertaken in an iterative way, initially testing the propositions in its ‘First Thoughts’ paper10. This is set out in full as an annex to the present report because it shows ‘where the Commission was coming from’ when it began its work.

2.6 As it progressed the Commission sought to make the most effective use of integrated material being prepared to inform the draft Transport and Economic Development Strategies as well as the London Plan. Thus the Commission was able to influence and benefit from the results of large scale ‘number crunching’ exercises assessing long term trends in London’s demography and economy as well as testing different approaches to transport investment.

2.7 However, it began its work by first evaluating the demographic, economic and investment assumptions which had underpinned the 2008 Plan, and moving on to assessment of emerging analysis, such as then new historic employment trends prepared by Cambridge Econometrics, Oxford Economics and Business Strategies Limited (Annex 3A) before exploring what were to become the 2009 London Plan base trends and projections11 (Annex 3B). These are summarised in iterations of the Joint Strategies Evidence base12.

2.8 GLA Economics13 and the LDA14 prepared a series of statistical analyses of some of the individual issues and areas identified by the Commission. They are raised below, together with the results of relevant ‘one-off’ studies, such as the London Office Policy Review15 (which included a bespoke analysis of the outer London and Metropolitan Area office markets); the London Town Centres Health Check and retail need study16, the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment/Housing Capacity Study17 and borough level sectoral refinements to the 2009 Plan’s economic projections18. The Commission also reconsidered some of the evidence which underpinned the 2008 London Plan19. It was fortunate in being able to draw on the expertise of one of its members involved in preparing the most recent edition of the City of London’s annual ‘London’s Place in the UK Economy’ report20, which includes a separate section on outer London.

2.9 In taking account of such a range of sources covering a long period, the Commission encountered a range of definitional issues, not least geographical. As far as possible, it conducted its analysis on the basis of the area of outer London defined in its brief (see Figure 1.1) – which inter alia contributed to its recommendation that Newham was more appropriately defined as an inner London borough (see Figure 1.3). Where this was not possible, the definitions used are noted in the text/footnotes.

Outer London: historic context

2.10 Outer London is a mixture of old and new. The capital’s outward growth embraced ancient towns and villages – the first written record mentioning Croydon is an Anglo Saxon will dating from 962 and parts of Ealing have been occupied for at least 700 years. But other areas and much of the area’s “connective tissue” is much more recent – most of suburban north west London was built in the years between the world wars, and photographs of the areas from the early thirties around new Underground stations in places like Edgware show small rural villages unrecognisable today. The term “connective tissue” is an apposite one; London’s outward surge followed improvements in public transport and the construction of new infrastructure which made it possible to work in central London while living in places with many of the conveniences of urban living and the quality of life of more rural areas.

2.11 The administrative County of London established in 1889 covered the area roughly encompassed by Travelcard zones 1 and 2. The continuously built-up area extended a little further out into the areas around the docks to the east, Hackney and Hampstead to the north and Herne Hill to the south. Cheap workmen’s rail fares helped the city spread to the north and east from the 1860s. The consolidation of previously privately-owned and competing tram networks by the London County Council between 1896 and 1906, and provision of services by local authorities like East Ham helped support further expansion. These are the suburbs marked by terraces of Victorian and Edwardian houses in places like Brixton, Tottenham and West Ham.

2.12 The greatest expansion, though, came in the period between the two world wars. This was when what is now north-west London was developed, seeing huge population growth (north-west Middlesex grew by 800,000 in this period) supported by new rail lines and services. Perhaps the best known example of this is the Metropolitan Railway, which established a development subsidiary to build houses in places like Harrow and Pinner.

2.13 The 1930s saw a range of new industries move to outer London where larger sites with easy access to the large and growing markets of the London area – for example Fords in Dagenham in the 1920s and Hoover building its iconic works on the Western Avenue. Outer London was not only a place where more and more people lived, but also a place where many worked and made things. By the 1950s, for example, Fords were producing around a quarter of a million vehicles each year at Dagenham and London as a whole accommodated a quarter of the country’s manufacturing jobs, most in outer London. Particularly after the second world war, outer London experienced substantial growth in office based jobs, providing ‘back offices’ for central London’s business and financial services, administrative and headquarters functions for firms which wanted a London location without central London costs, central government administrative functions, and some specialist activities such pharmaceuticals and the emerging IT sector.

2.14 Manufacturing in London started to decline in the early 1970s. In 1971, there were over a million manufacturing jobs in the capital, many of them in outer London. There are now 224,000, with the prospect of further decline to 89,000 by 203121. The large factories in outer London closed as production was moved to other parts of the United Kingdom where larger, cheaper sites were available – or out of the country altogether. Exacerbated by technological and organisational change and government dispersal policy, a similar process also affected some of outer London’s large post-war office occupiers.

2.15 However, at the same time new, more locally based jobs were being created in the service sectors like retail, leisure, personal and business services and the creative industries, especially to meet the local needs of an increasingly affluent population. The result is a hugely variegated one, with some parts of the area still coping with the consequences of the first shift to a post-industrial economy or with the first set of post-industrial changes as large scale office occupation contracted in the 1980s and 1990s, while others have seen traditional strengths in services reinforced and built upon as sectors change and new ones come forward. The remainder of this chapter seeks to map this variety.

Outer London economy: demand side

How big is the outer London economy?


2.16 In workplace output terms, outer London accounted for a third (32.6% – £83,064 million) of London’s £254,621 million economy in 2007
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