The latest meeting of the Capital Club on 24th January brought together leading industry figures to discuss the potential impact and outcomes of Crossrail 2 for the Borough of Enfield. It was chaired by Chris Hayward, JBP Senior Counsel and Chairman of the Planning and Transportation Committee of the City of London Corporation, and had as guest speaker the Leader of Enfield Council, Cllr Doug Taylor.
The discussion began with the acknowledgement that outer London boroughs are not often perceived as ambitious. Boroughs such as Enfield felt the need to fight their corner even when they endorsed exciting big projects, for example the Meridian Water regeneration programme, or the provision of low-carbon energy solutions to the Lee Valley. However, attendees agreed that outer boroughs had a key role to play if Crossrail 2 was to be successful.
It was agreed that all growth was predicated on good transport links. At a time of peak national ‘inward’ migration to London, rail would be key to the city meeting increasing commuter and housing demands, and Crossrail 2 would add 10% to its current capacity. The expansion of Stansted, too, would require significant improvement of transport links. Beyond London, attendees also foresaw a successful Crossrail2 benefitting supply chains and the construction industry across the rest of the UK.
The discussion turned to Enfield’s particular profile. The borough had a broad range of demographics, encompassing an affluent North and West, and more deprived South and East (particularly the Eastern Corridor up to Tottenham Hale). It equally had a very diverse landscape, characterised by both very dense rural areas and actual rural areas (including farms and large swathes of Green Belt). The population was mostly young, which would augur well for the local economy if the borough did not primarily attract low-wage logistics companies due to its proximity to M25, M10, and Cambridge Corridor.
Enfield Council’s core priority was therefore to reduce the borough’s social inequalities, by increasing employment opportunities in the more deprived South and East, but also in the Cambridge Corridor (to which borough residents might commute). However, it was important to the council that the jobs created were higher wage than they had traditionally been. The borough would also need to build 40,000 new homes to accommodate a growing population set to increase still further after Crossrail 2, but without losing all its industrial land (so it could retain some industrial capacity).
Because most businesses in Enfield were SMEs which relied on local supply chains, the Council also hoped that Crossrail 2 would help these grow. Whilst Crossrail 1 was not a regeneration project, attendees felt that Crossrail 2 needed to be about more than transport.
Although attendees were optimistic about Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss’s new responsibility for Crossrail 2, they remained concerned about the funding gap, and the fact that the Mayor of London had recently made clear the Greenbelt was sacrosanct. In Enfield, Crossrail 2 would also entail closing 2 level crossings (cause congestion), create huge competition around industrial land use. Therefore, attendees agreed there needed to be a serious delivery vehicle put in place if the project was to come off.
Developers had been struck by the proactive attitude to land acquisitions in Enfield, compared to other boroughs when it came to CR1. Attendees wondered whether there ought to be more pro-activity across all boroughs, and agreed that where the private sector wasn’t willing to run risks, the local authorities had a duty to intervene. They added that there needed to be a net increase in strategic industrial land, and that land prices needed to be controlled so that infrastructure could keep pace with developments.
Attendees then turned the discussion to how local authorities were supporting each other on Crossrail 2. It was thought that geography cemented relationships, so local authorities in Hackney, Haringey, Essex, Cambridge and Hertfordshire had a mutual respect for each other’s objectives. Within the London-Cambridge Corridor, there was a place in the sun for all. However, it was remarked that cross-borough support ended south of Hackney.
Attendees considered whether the private rented sector ought to be part of Enfield’s housing and regeneration plans, and if planning regulation needed to change for that to happen. There was consensus that PRS would feature; for instance, Meridian Water would have a variety of tenure types. However, because market rent remained unaffordable for a large demographic in Enfield, it would depend on location within the borough.
Attendees discussed how much Crossrail 2 would cost Enfield, and how the funds would be raised.
Though there would probably be a tax ‘reset’ for local residents, attendees agreed that Enfield should explore ways of getting businesses and residents outside of London who will benefit from Crossrail 2 to contribute funding. There had to be rewards for the disruption the project would caus.
Going forwards, attendees wanted to see Crossrail 2 transform London into a polycentric metropolis, in the style of Manchester. They hoped Crossrail 2 would transform outer boroughs from a dormant outer-ring serving Zones 1 & 2 to thriving sub-regional hubs.