London’s Cross Rail 2 – can the assumptions behind it be believed?

I have just finished reading the report from The Cross Rail 2 Growth Commission: ‘Cross Rail 2. Delivering Growth in London and The South East.’

I do not intend to write here a fully detailed analysis of the report but will instead just outline a few big issues as I see them.

Essentially it seems that:

1/. Cross Rail 2 is required to allow London to grow; and to fund CR2 London has to grow even more. This seems a very circular argument and looks very much like a ponzi scheme to me.

2/. To deliver the homes, and their associated development profits and uplift in land values to fund CR2, there has to be a substantial reconfiguration and intensification of existing industrial/employment land, and the relocation of existing businesses; as well as Green Belt reconfiguration. This requires a lot of highly skilled planning, design and delivery – as it does to make intensified localities around the CR2 stations work: I just don’t believe this will be done with the level of care and skill required.

I can’t help thinking that some heroic assumptions are being made and don’t believe that these will follow through into planning and delivery.

I am going to end this short piece on something I read early-on in the CR2 Commission’s report which colours their entire thinking about funding and delivery.

They wrote: “Given pressure on central Government funding…….”. This statement is a fundamental misunderstanding of how Government money and funding works. With this lack of understanding how can we have any faith in what else they go on to say?

In short, for these (but not only these) reasons I am not convinced of the case for Cross Rail 2.

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