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Boris, You're Wasting Your Time Unless You Fix Transport, Says Property Industry


Boris Johnson’s 'levelling up' agenda is a waste of time unless the government sorts out city transport.

Without it, development sites that could transform local economies cannot be delivered.

That is the message from the London Property Alliance, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and major landowners in Sheffield, who have come together to give the government a piece of their mind ahead of further policy announcements in the autumn.

The forthcoming planning bill is expected to ditch much of the controversial planning white paper, Planning for the Future, published in August 2020.

The could-do-better list includes supporting local councils and mayors who want to grow or start new tram networks or guided busways; backing public-private partnerships where public resources may be insufficient; more tax-raising powers for local government; and making sure that transport planning and land use planning are aligned.

The property sector also warned that any ‘levelling down’ of London to redirect resources to the regions will harm UK growth, and that the HS2 high speed rail line risked depriving regional transport schemes of the money they needed.

City Region Connectivity was jointly commissioned by not-for-profit trade bodies London Property Alliance and Sheffield Property Association, which together represent more than 500 property companies across central London and South Yorkshire. The paper was written by JLL with support from Mott MacDonald and has already won the backing of Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham.

Along the way the document takes a sideswipe at the recent planning white paper, which has already been widely criticised by business, opposition parties and government backbenchers.

“Future planning reform needs to recognise the link between new transport, housing and driving economic growth. The upcoming Planning White Paper should provide the opportunity to address this,” the document said.

“The ad hoc nature of transport investment and the absence of a clear and coherent strategy is one of the major barriers to levelling up and driving social and economic prosperity across all regions of the country,” London Property Alliance Executive Director Charles Begley said.

“We urgently need to unlock the potential of all regions and this can only be achieved through uniting the country, not dividing it. We hope our recommendations will support the Government’s desire to build back better.”