Andrew Adonis: London 2030
Andrew Adonis gave a great lecture on the 39th floor of Canary Wharf tower last night. An edited version of it is published on The Independent website.
After surveying London’s history since Christopher Wren, Lord Adonis concluded that the city has expanded successfully when it has had a plan. Then he set out his vision of London in 2030, which would have housed an extra one million people in more than a dozen “city villages”.
His futuristic vision had some nice touches:
It was when the average London house price reached £600,000, and the newly launched TV channel London Live raised its famous petition of 2 million Londoners demanding a million homes by 2030, that action followed. Within a month, the Mayor and Prime Minister Ed Miliband agreed the 2016 Growth Deal for London which gave the Mayor and the boroughs more of London’s property and development taxes in return for a commitment to a million homes and London undertaking to pay for most of the transport and other infrastructure needed to support them.
Adonis did not say who that Mayor would be, but the audience knew that he would like to be Labour’s successor to Boris Johnson, whose second term ends in 2016. (Adonis had a good line about some of the things in the future that had not gone so smoothly: “Boris’s extension of the cable car to Downing Street was a security nightmare.”)
That was why it was interesting that Michael Heseltine had agreed to take part in the event, organised by the Mile End Group and the Politics department at Queen Mary University of London, where Adonis is now a visiting professor.
Hezza offered a crisp response to the lecture, delivered without notes. He did not endorse Adonis, of course, and disagreed about who would be prime minister in 2016. But he paid tribute to such an unusual politician, who had spent a week on London’s buses to find out what the problems are for the people. And he spoke of the “cussedness and determination” needed to make big urban regeneration happen.
He also said:
My preoccupation at this time of my life is to get central government to let go and embrace the talents of the people.
Also speaking in response to Adonis’s lecture was the brilliant Professor Tony Travers, of LSE, who injected what I thought was a necessary note of economic caution into the proceedings, saying that he was all in favour of building more houses, but would this not lead to more demand and mean that new building would always be chasing house prices?
Here, though, was how Adonis concluded his lecture:
When Christopher Wren put his plan to Charles II, this is what he said: “Nothing will more Discover abroad the Weakness of our Government … [than] That having an Opportunity in their hands of doing one of the greatest Benefits that can be done to the Publick, They are unable to bring it to Pass, or unwilling to be at the trouble.”
Tagged in: Andrew Adonis, london, london mayor, london mayoral election 2016, michael heseltine, mile end group, tony travers
That was the challenge then. It is the challenge now. It is our choice.
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