What does London metropolis need for even faster growth?


Some things like cheaper energy would be good for the whole of the UK and would assist an industrial recovery. In order to support and improve the current faster rate of growth in the wider metropolis there needs to be further major investment. More people means the need for more schools, hospitals surgeries, roads, trains, bridges, power supply, water and the rest. Much of this can be wholly or partially privately financed, but some will be public capital.

The main need which the government has toĀ provide is road space. 86% of allĀ travel is by road transport, though the morning and evening peaks in greater London Ā sees a much higher railway percentage than the average 6%. Ā In inner London when you take into accountĀ  the tubeĀ trains, rail can representĀ Ā a Ā majority of the travel at busy times. This unusual balance has led to higher railway investment in the centre of London, with crossrail and some tube improvement. London will need extra tube lines like Hackney-ChelseaĀ and further capacity on short haul commuter lines into and out of central London. In a very busy large city centre you have enough people to be able to run a frequent train service which meets many people’s travel needs.

In the wider area it is roadspace which has been held back in the last 15 years despite rapid growth of population. There needs to be more capacity on the main existing motorways from the M25 in every direction. There needs to be a better A34 haul road from Oxford and the Midlands to Southampton, a bigger A 14 and A 12 to Felixstowe, more capacity on the A2 into fast growing north Kent, a south c0ast dual carriageway highway linking the M27 to the other bits of dual carriageway so far built, extra capacity on the M 27, and into Heathrow. There is a need for parts of an M37.5, a ring beyond the M25 using roads like the A404, the A322, the A329M, the A331,A 264, and the Ā A 21 with better links between them.

Local routes often need more bridges crossing railway lines and rivers. The bottleneck caused by small bridges or too few bridges are a major part of the morning and evening jams which so tireĀ  people trying to get home after a long day at the factory or office. We need safer junctions with fewer conflicts between pedestrians and vehicles, and faster flows at junctions to avoid delay and driver impatience.

There needs to be expanded airport capacity as soon as possible. This metropolis will need more energy,more broadband capacity and much else which the private sector will supply naturally without government involvement.

I understand some readers just want better controls on immigration. We need anyway to cater better from all of us who live here already, and we have talkedĀ a lotĀ about what is and is not possible on migration. I will be shortly posting details of the latest changes under the new Immigration Act.




  1. Mike Stallard
    May 22, 2014

    “Some things like cheaper energy would be good for the whole of the UK and would assist an industrial recovery.” Of course, and that is why renewables are being introduced and the old coal fired power stations converted to clean efficient energy in accordance with the Green EU Directives.
    “The main need which the government has to provide is road space.” Which is why HS2 is being invested in under DG Move.
    “I understand some readers just want better controls on immigration.” Of course, and the freedom of movement within the European Union is one of the four freedoms which we all enjoy.
    I am so glad that you understand that the call for More Europe is meeting the needs of your region.

    PS Back to reality: the bursting metropolis of London is actually very exciting indeed and it is quite impressive to see how Crossrail and the roads (up here in Cambridgeshire) are being built under this government.

    1. lifelogic
      May 22, 2014

      Trust me no need to vote ukip says Cameron but only yesterday he confirmed he want to keep open borders with the eu with no quality control.

      Yes road space and parking, roads have been deliberately blocked islands bus bike lanes environmental area red light by design …….

      Cheap energy mean no Cameron Davey green crap and get franking,burning coal and nuclear.

      All things considered cars are no worse than trains,bikes, buses environmentally do to do. A full car is much better.

      1. Anonymous
        May 22, 2014

        A full car is rare.

      2. Hope
        May 22, 2014

        JR, the is no money for the infrastructure that goes with the massive building programme of the Coalition. Boles can be aggressive as he likes to build on every piece of land. However, the is no money. Cameron prefers to borrow vast sums to give away to overseas aid, EU and other wasteful uses rather than dove tail infrastructure with the building. He at least ought to think through his mass immigration and building programme so that it works. He is completely useless at strategy. When he asks the public to trust him, it proves to me he still not get it. He is pompous and arrogant.

        Yesterday came another threat from a body that challenged the coalition. First we had the press vindictively treated, the public if they did not except HMRC raising their bank accounts (Cameron would raise taxes) then the energy companies now the police.

        1. Hope
          May 22, 2014


      3. Hope
        May 22, 2014

        New immigration figures out today. Surprise, surprise Farage was correct about EU immigration and net immigration 210,000 in the last year! And we have the DT confirming Farage was correct with Romanian and Bulgarian immigration. Let us hope the LibLabCon cartel will apologise after all the hype over the last week. Perhaps we could have Teresa May resigning for failing to make any significant change? There are no border controls of any significance. No hope of Cameron getting close to his promise on immigration and he would not restate the pledge yesterday. Therefore overcrowding will become a big issue as will building on every piece of land and all this without the requisite infrastructure to cope. This is before we consider the bigger issues of sovereign nation, preserving our customs, values and beliefs. The country is being overwhelmed.

      4. Lifelogic
        May 22, 2014

        Sorry “door to door” not “do to do” I need a bigger phone or younger eyes!

  2. Antisthenes
    May 22, 2014

    What is needed is the public and government to think not what can the government do but what can the private sector be trusted with. I suggest a great deal more than is currently thought. The result will be better thought out, less wasteful and more efficient projects to ease the current myriad of infrastructure deficiencies than the public sector constantly get so very wrong. The left has conditioned us to think that government is the panacea for all life’s problems and that they are the fountain of all wisdom so that we have built a system of governance that creates more problems that it ever cures. Political policy should be centred around creating an environment that allows market forces free range to create that which the nation needs in investment and capital spending. Central command economies do not work and as soon as the left wake up to the fact the sooner will their ambitions (not just a lefty goal but one equally in the heart of us on the right which of course they will never admit)of creating a more prosperous, more equal and just society will be realised.

    1. Lifelogic
      May 22, 2014

      The government should thing was are the tiny number of things the state can do better and more efficiently than individuals, charities and the private sector. Certainly no more than 10-20% of GDP I would have thought.

  3. Richard1
    May 22, 2014

    Yes there has not been nearly enough road investment since 1997. Rail presumably ticks more green boxes and so we end up with the uneconomic nonsense of HS2. Much more investment is needed to improve major roads and to ameliorate bottle necks. The A14 is particularly bad – let’s get private finance involved and pay for it through tolls.

    Another very unsatisfactory and costly area is broadband. There are many areas of the UK where BT has a total monopoly and can get away with supplying speeds a small fraction of what should be available – and is available in competitor countries. The price of course remains high. This is a major impediment to establishment and development of new businesses. 30 years after BT was privatized it remains a monopoly in what is now the most important service area. It is extraordinary.

    1. Alan Wheatley
      May 22, 2014

      Indeed. BT should be broken up, splitting the infrastructure and service parts into two separate companies.

      Then the infrastructure side should be run as a publicly owned but privately run company. The key point is that there is no sense in having competition for the infrastructure, the competition should be between service provides buying capacity on the common infrastructure. A bit like coach companies and the roads.

    2. uanime5
      May 23, 2014

      The A14 is particularly bad ā€“ letā€™s get private finance involved and pay for it through tolls.

      The problem with this is that many toll roads and bridges are unprofitable because people prefer to use the free roads.

  4. stred
    May 22, 2014

    Off subj ect I thought you would be interested to know that I am unable to vote today because I am abroad and my postal vote was refused because I asked for it 3 weeks ago. However, the council offered a ‘vote by proxy’ if returned in time. There was not enough. This seems even more open to fraud. How could I trust any of my greeny lefty friends to vote UKIP?

    1. JoeSoap
      May 22, 2014

      Indeed, those of us busy enough not to realise that elections and work abroad co-incide until too late (elections don’t appear on my Outlook calendar) miss out disproportionately. As you say, one could go through the hoop of emergency proxy votes, but secure electronic voting would solve this one, and other fraud.
      Greetings from Ireland.

      1. JoeSoap
        May 22, 2014

        PS That make 2 UKIP would-be votes to add to these at the GE.

    2. Lifelogic
      May 22, 2014

      Greeny lefy friends? Where do they work – at the BBC, the state sector, the Guardian, Schools or Universities? Do they like Cameron types belief in the magic money tree and a Telly Tubby wind turbine land?

      Do any have sound science degrees – I suspect not?

  5. Narrow shoulders
    May 22, 2014

    London has been an expensive hades for many years now. A magnet for immigrants (foreign and domestic) corporations and soon to be disappointed fortune seekers. I suspect that many of us (un?)fortunate enough to have been born would love the opportunity to move away and enjoy a less bustling, pressured and grubby existence.

    Unfortunately due to government encouraging growth above all else moving away is problematic because most opportunity is in London. Why are you looking to make London existence even more expensive and unpleasant? Give Londoners more schools, hospital and transport to cope with those already here and then focus on other cities. Per capita GDP is of more concern to your electorate than overall Mr Redwood. I am fed up working to pay for more political interference.

    1. Iain Gill
      May 23, 2014

      Big cities are in any case vulnerable to infectious diseases. It is far from guaranteed we will invent enough new antibiotics, or equivalent, to deal with resistant strains of diseases which evolve. It is far from guaranteed that our hospitals will be clean enough, or have enough space to allow proper separation of patients and cleaning, to prevent massive spreads of disease. This dynamic could dramatically alter things within a generation. Especially the way incentives for coming up with new medicines works in the Pharma regulatory framework.

  6. Iain Gill
    May 22, 2014

    I could almost agree with what you say John.
    Except for a few things:
    Saying things like this just makes it sound like a South East party, and you need votes from the rest of the country too to be successful electorally. South East MP’s should be paired up with a safe labour seat to get under the skin of its real issues.
    I live in the South East but if you asked me the most urgent road improvement the country needs then I am afraid itā€™s the A1 from Leeds to Edinburgh! This major trunk road has been crying out for upgrade to motorway for a long time. In comparison nothing you mention is anywhere near as important.
    Re “I understand some readers just want better controls on immigration” donā€™t kid yourself, remember you are inevitably hearing what the political class and journalistic PC brigade think a lot more than ordinary folkā€¦ I can tell you for free that the vast majority of the population “want better controls on immigration” as their top priority. You will be making a massive mistake to dismiss this as a minority interest that can continue to be disregarded in the sure knowledge that the rest of the political class will force their views on the rest of us regardless.
    Good luck

  7. Edward2
    May 22, 2014

    Many of these projects are long overdue and would be a reasonable way of spending taxpayers money.
    At least a permanent asset would be created which would benefit many people in their work and leisure pusuits.
    The projects themselves would create employment for many.

    It is the lack of proper planning that depresses me.
    If we know that the population is rising rapidly then we need to get going and create the infrastructure for them.

    I shall stop now as I am beginning to sound a bit Keynesian.

    1. acorn
      May 22, 2014

      Ed2, there is no shame in sounding a bit Keynsian. If you are embarrassed to mention such a word on JR’s site, you could always say you are “Post Keynesian”, but haven’t yet crossed over to MMT. The difference is simply how you treat the deficit in the next generation. I know it is difficult to give up the old-fashioned; neo-liberal; laissez faire; mainstream; the market is always self-correcting, economic theory. Let’s call it the “Supply-Side” for short.

      The financial crisis has stretched from the Northern Rock BS crash, to the “Help-to-Buy” housing bubble fiasco. Surely this has proved the total failure of the “Supply-Side” economic ideology? All our legacy political parties use the same. They all think we are still on the Gold Standard and budgets have to balance.

      I beseech you Edward to consider coming over to the “Demand-Side” of the force. Since 2008, the USA and the UK have suffered a massive Demand-Side recession, not a Supply-Side recession. Business and entrepreneurs do not invest (to boost profits), until they can see customers with money in their hands, coming in the front door of the office; factory or web-portal. UK customers for one, are only just getting a handle on their debts and the doubtful prospect of better wages to pay them down. This isn’t exactly prompting them to go out and load up the credit card; spending NOT saving.

      When the private sector stops spending the government sector has to spend to maintain the production capability of the economy. Austerity and balancing budgets, is the very very very, last thing the economy needs, in a Demand-Side recession. / .

      NOW GO OUT AND VOTE if you haven’t already. All the best to you and yours.

      1. acorn
        May 22, 2014

        Sorry, in all the excitement of this day, I forgot to mention that the ONS has published the PSF today. Someone has finally explained to the Chancellor, how the money system actually works. I bet it was BoE Governor Carney (thankyou Lord).

        You will see the Treasury has backed off the “austerity” pedal during 2013/14. Hopefully, Osbo’ will quietly forget his zero deficit for 2018/19 plan now. http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171778_363477.pdf .

  8. Andyvan
    May 22, 2014

    Isn’t central planning wonderful? After all look what it did for the Soviet Union.

  9. John E
    May 22, 2014

    I agree on the need for the M37.5 but how can it or any major road ever be built with the current planning regime? The bridge over the Thames at the end of the 329M has been successfully resisted by Oxfordshire council for over 50 years and I don’t see them giving way anytime soon.

    We have been in a dream world of thinking prosperity can come from borrowing against our houses to buy cheap Chinese imports. There will need to be a huge change in the public mood to get any proper infrastructure built.

    1. DBC Reed
      May 22, 2014

      Was n’t neo- laissez faire wonderful? If it had worked and done more than raise continual house price bubbles we would n’t be in the present mess.

      1. APL
        May 23, 2014

        DBC Reed: “Was nā€™t neo- laissez faire wonderful?”

        Where in the British economy during the last 60 years has an industry been left alone by the government?

  10. lifelogic
    May 22, 2014

    I think peter Oborne in the Telegraph today is quite right Camerons inertia over abuse in Iraq is bad for him and his country – oh for a leader with a working compass on all the issues – the eu,the green crap, the size of the state, the war crimes …….

  11. A different Simon
    May 22, 2014

    John ,

    I can’t deny that London as a concept has been a success for the people who have been attracted to it .

    It is however not an English or British success because London is no longer part of England .

    I don’t see why English or British citizens should rejoice at the success of London any more than it should at the success of more obviously foreign cities/principalities/protectorates such as Jersey , Monaco or Frankfurt .

    I’m not alone here . Many other English people feel the same way as the Scots about the Westminster Government – it is a Government for London , not England .

    1. Alan Wheatley
      May 22, 2014

      I agree.

    2. Aunty Estab
      May 22, 2014

      ” A Government for London, not England” how true, the Government think the rest of England can be ignored and is only there to provide money for them to waste, is there any wonder at the popularity of UKIP the way England has been treated? Why need everything be centered in London? the cost to the country
      of all those commuters travelling long distances in and out daily must be enormous.

    3. John E
      May 22, 2014

      The City of London and the M3/M4 corridor are the only parts of the country that generate more taxes than they spend.

  12. alan jutson,
    May 22, 2014

    Face fats John, the simple fact is that London is running out of space, the only real way forward is to go up or out, which is exactly what has been happening for decades.

    We have no space in London for new roads or Rail track without redeveloping (knocking down) existing areas, and with such crass planning and compensation rules it takes years to reach any sort of agreement on anything.

    Trying to cram more and more people into ever smaller spaces (just look at room sizes on new residential developments) and trying to limit car parking provision, and creating obstructions with traffic management systems does not help people flow in or out either.

    London will eventually strangle itself, it may not happen in my lifetime but happen it will, yes it could be delayed by throwing vast sums of money at it for short term gain, but such money could be better spent if it was spread around the UK a little more to create a far more efficient Country for the masses rather than for the few.

    Do I have a solution, well as you have already mentioned, you need to control unchecked immigration.

    Perhaps we should also allow Councils to keep all of the business rates in their area, so they will recognise that encouraging business in their area creates wealth.

    Perhaps we need a simple and generous compensation scheme for transport redevelopment schemes where properties or businesses are to be demolished, so people will be compensated properly for losing a home or livelihood.

  13. APL
    May 22, 2014

    Yesterday on the television news, an article about democracy/the election in Tower Hamlets (London) where 5,000 postal vote registrations have been struck from the electoral roll.

    Yet, Mr Redwood a few weeks ago, refused to acknowledge the level of postal vote fraud.

    5,000 fraudulent votes is probably enough to swing the result in many constituencies.

  14. Alan Wheatley
    May 22, 2014

    Is this plan for even faster growth of the Metropolis integrated with the strategic plan for rebalancing the economy. If so, please explain.

  15. Martin
    May 22, 2014

    I suspect you admire the USA. One of the drivers for the USA’s success has been immigration. The poor Polish/Irish immigrant who worked hard and ended up a billionaire.

    Another answer to your question is more Maths in school.

  16. libertarian
    May 22, 2014

    What we actually need is for BT, Virgin, Vodafone etc to invest in far more fixed and mobile internet capacity. The excuse from BT that it isn’t commercially viable is nonsense. Change your pricing structure then. Charge more for greater capacity. We should already have total 4g coverage in South East, yet some areas STILL have poor 2g. Even Peru and Turkey has better telecoms infrastructure than us.

    What we need from the government is TAX incentives to encourage more people too work from home or to work out of local community hubs thereby relieving traffic and train congestion peaks. We do still need to improve our road infrastructure too though.

    By the way incentivising more people to work from home would also help revitalise a lot of South East town centre High Streets too.

  17. JA
    May 22, 2014

    “we have talked a lot about what is and is not possible on migration.”

    Well you certainly haven’t, John.

    A couple of posts ago you admitted yourself that you’d only written about it ‘several’ times out of thousands of your posts. This is the electorates’ #1 issue and a problem which affects every aspect of our domestic economy. This vital omission is made in most of the political/economic analysis presented by you, our best Conservative. I conclude that much of what is debated here is incomplete and pointless (other than to pretend that things are normal.)

    I invite you and your readers to look back through your postings to confirm what I say. Then to look at the comments and see how many times people have had to remind you about it.

    I suspect many in your party don’t like ordinary Britons. They are an embarrassment to the Tories. Never to be praised for their forbearance, acceptance and adaptability – in fact this quality goes completely unnoticed or denied. Were it not for the importance of the votes they would rather they weren’t there.

    Fine. It is – in a free country – a person’s prerogative to dislike whomsoever they wish. But please stop posturing as Conservatives and using the Conservative name when your party is nothing of the sort. It leads to confusion about who voted for what.

    Pro EU Conservatives ought to wear the EU badge (they should be proud to do so) in order that we do not get confused about whom we are voting for.

    PS, If the EU could really be worked with from within then today’s elections would be of far more significance than they are.

  18. Neil Craig
    May 22, 2014

    As a UKIP supporter I am happy to agree it is not just about curbing immigration. There are a number of ways we can increase comfort in Britain (many of which I have mentioned before), including automated rail which would greatly increase carrying capacity and reduce costs; overhead monorails; improved off road car parking possibly including under the roads; some road improvements – we could, for example double deck some motorways; tunnels; and of course allowing us to have cheap housing (1/4 present price) and electricity (under 1/10th).

    If John were running the country I have little doubt progress would be made but under the present Tory government there is little sign.

  19. Robert Taggart
    May 22, 2014

    Agreed – vis-Ć -vis transport investment and road building – down souf.
    But, a plea from the provinces – regarding trunk road building – can we have a western motorway bypass for the Birmingham / Black Country area linking the M6 to the M5 + a second motorway across the Pennines linking Manchester to Sheffield ?

  20. Anonymous
    May 22, 2014

    A wily leader would have let the Tory dog (his Eurosceptic voters) have a chew on the UKIP bone. It would have returned in 2015 when it got bored.

    Instead he shot the dog with insults, bad alliances and a barely concealed barrage against Farage.

    Not very clever.

  21. BobE
    May 22, 2014

    If trucks could cross to the A34 from Dover it would reduce traffic on the M25. Almost all M25 trucks are going to pass london.
    So. Motorway the A34 and build a link to connect it to Dover.
    Build a southern Bristol Bypass to relieve the M5 across the North of Bristol.
    The M6 at Manchester needs extra lanes.

  22. Atlas
    May 22, 2014


    Being a country bumpkin, I am propping up my farm gate, chewing a straw, and just wondering when London will implode under the weight of its own size…

    I’m glad Londoners do not like the concept of open country – rather they view it as a building plot – because it means that they’ll keep to the SE for that bit longer.

    Ooooh, Aaaagh.

  23. John E
    May 22, 2014

    I think the road you refer to was originally planned as the M31. It was shelved in the seventies at the time of the oil shock.


  24. Malcolm Edward
    May 22, 2014

    Its refreshing to have an MP who sees the capacity problems with the road network, accepts the fact people use cars on roads and writes sensibly about the sort of improvements needed, and doesn’t suggest that public transport is always the answer (but equally enhancing rail where demand justifies it is sensible too).

  25. ian wragg
    May 22, 2014

    Your last paragraph is the understatement of the year. “some of you want better controls on immigration”… Too right but CMD has now refused to confirm a reduction below 100.000 is still his aim as he realises he has absolutely no control whilst in the EU.
    I can’t wait for the new immigration bill, probably as good a work of fiction as a Clive Cussler novel.
    I’ve just cast my vote and spent half an hour talking to voters outside the polling station.
    Of the 12 I spoke to all are voting UKIP and that is from a 20 something to a couple of 80 year olds.
    I have no reason to doubt them and their anger is palpable.

  26. margaret brandreth-j
    May 22, 2014

    What is the most frustrating thing about visiting London is access . On my first couple of trips down to London I imagined driving down straight to the centre into a hotel car park to stay the night and go about my business from there. It may sound naive; I simply did not realise that this was almost impossible .

  27. Freeborn John
    May 22, 2014

    Thee should be a south west trains rail link from Staines into Heathrow. This need only be a couple of miles long but would take large numbers of people who currently need to use taxis to get to Heathrow from Surrey and Berkshire / Hampshire. It would be a great boom to your constituents in Wokingham and other stops on the reading to Waterloo line and cost very little as so few miles of new track would be needed.

    The M37.5 plan is also needed. The A329M should be extended southbound so as to connect the M4, M3 and A3(M).

  28. dave/r
    May 22, 2014

    off subject but the silence is deafening

    Instead, admittedly distasteful comments by very minor figures in the party, some of them dating back several years, have been dredged up and paraded as evidence of UKIP’s institutionalised evil. Meanwhile, 17 members of the LibLabCon parties were arrested on serious charges. What did we hear of this from the mainstream media? ALMOST NOTHING.

  29. Dennis
    May 22, 2014

    If Mr Redwood had a hole in his bath so the level of water could not be maintained at his desired depth, he would not notice or bother with the hole but would attempt to fix the problem by going to the immense trouble and expense (so lauding the increase of GDP) of laying in more water pipes, tapping a water supply from somewhere at distance, probably belonging to someone else although paying for it (more GDP so that’s good), and turning on the flow at the necessary increased rate to maintain the depth.

    If he has at all considered the capacity of the new source, which seems unlikely, he will just hope that it will last.
    He is not alone with this kind of ‘foresight’.

  30. Vanessa
    May 23, 2014

    As a non-driver I despair of concreting over England so we humans can get to our destinations even quicker and more conveniently. I had hoped that the idea of renting and sharing cars would increase so the overall amount on the roads might reduce but obviously not.

    I love wildlife and feel very afraid that we humans think we are SO superior that our needs are paramount – we are not and they are not. I think there needs to be a rethink as we become more worried about feeding the 9 BILLION of us and providing clean safe water etc. The green natural world (including the bees) needs to be considered and given their space without being poisoned by our fumes and concrete. And of course they thrive on CO2 – a completely natural gas (not a dirty poison) which all plants need to grow and produce fruit and vegetables.

  31. Dennis
    May 23, 2014

    As you have excised my comment on the bath analogy it would seem I have hit the nail on the head, yes?

  32. uanime5
    May 23, 2014

    I was reading a Telegraph article about how the working population of London is much younger than the rest of the UK. It seems that young people are coming from all parts of Britain to work in London for a few years, then leaving to live somewhere cheaper. It’s possible that London is affordable for single people to live in but not for a family to live in.

    So the British are effectively acting like eastern European immigrants by working in high paying jobs in high costs areas, then leaving to live somewhere cheaper. I doubt that this will be sustainable in the long term and will probably collapse once London becomes too expensive for most single people to live in.


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