For more than 30 years, Greater London has been growing. After four decades of post-war shrinkage, its 606 square miles have been filling up with more people and more buildings. A population that had declined from a pre-war 8.6 million to below seven million has now risen to nine million and is projected to soar to 10 million and beyond.
That means yet more demand for homes in which to live, more spaces in which to work, and more places in which to rest and play. It also means a need for more transport capacity, health care facilities, shops, public services and schools. London’s recent growth causes resentment and concern, but there is no sign of it stopping any time soon. Within the city, tensions arising from it – and from approaches by the city’s local authorities and Mayors to managing and shaping it – have fuelled sometimes furious disputes.
So how should London grow? And what could and should the city’s next Mayor do to nurture the best kinds of growth when there are so many different factors to weigh in the balance, so many competing pressures, such sharply differing opinions, and so many forces involved that City Hall cannot really control?
These are fundamental questions for London’s future and On London is pleased and proud to have joined with the illustrious London Society to organise a major debate about the issues at their heart in the run up to this year’s election. It will take place in the evening of 2 April at St Marylebone’s Parish Church on Marylebone Road and the panel will include three of the leading candidates running for Mayor. They are:
- Siân Berry, national co-leader of the Green Party, a member of the London Assembly and a Camden councillor. Siân recently launched her mayoral bid, her third, with strong criticism of the current Mayor’s policies on roads and aviation and his approach to addressing climate change – all important considerations when defining what “good growth” is. Her mayoral campaign website is here.
- Siobhan Benita, the Liberal Democrat candidate, who ran for City Hall in 2012 as an Independent, launched her campaign with promises to improve affordable housing supply on Transport for London-owned land and to explore new modular home-building technologies. She also stressed environmental issues and her opposition to airport expansion. Siobhan’s mayoral website is here.
- Roy Stewart, the Independent who was previously a Conservative MP and minister, has said that TfL and other publicly owned land that can be developed for housing should remain that way and that he would set up a “Mayor’s building company” if elected. He has argued that the public should be “leading the programme” on affordable house-building. Rory’s website is here.
This top line trio will be joined by representatives of the Labour and Conservative parties, to be announced in due course. Neither of their mayoral candidates are available. I, Dave Hill, On London’s founder and editor and formerly the award-winning London commentator of the Guardian, will be chairing the proceedings, being firm but fair with all involved.
That includes the audience, from whom I will be seeking intelligent questions on the night. The venue can accommodate about 300 people and well over 100 tickets have already been sold. It would be lovely to see lots of On London readers there and to hear from some of them too. We’ve kept the price of tickets as low as we can. So please buy some today!