Town centres vital to London’s future prosperity

Targeting town centres is, according to the Commission’s interim conclusions, the best way to realise outer London’s economic potential and contribute towards the capital’s continued position as the powerhouse of the UK economy.

The Outer London Commission was set up by the Mayor last year up to explore how the outer boroughs can better contribute to the capital’s economic success. The Mayor unveiled the Commission’s findings ahead of a special debate on London’s economic road to recovery in Croydon.

The Mayor said: "These findings confirm my view that outer London’s town centre network is critical to the capital’s prosperity in the 21st Century.

"We know that we rely on one or two specific sectors for that prosperity at our peril, and we must ensure we put in place policies that grasp every opportunity to unleash outer London’s full potential.

"I look forward to receiving the Commission’s final report, but there is no time to lose and we will begin now to look at how we can align our economic strategies to best support our valuable town centres."

Rejecting the idea of an orbital transport route around outer London, the Commission also recommended turning town centres into transport hubs into which routes from outer areas would feed. This "hub and spoke" model, it concluded, would make much better use of the existing transport network, suit the needs of passengers in the area and help town centres to attract new businesses and customers.

The Commission also found that businesses in outer London are more likely to be competing with micro economies such as Reading and Luton which are well outside the capital, than with businesses in inner London.

Key findings from the Outer London Commission’s interim report are:

* The development of outer London should be based upon a "star and cluster" approach making use of the existing town centre network;
* A high-speed continuous orbital public transport system is unlikely to address outer London needs;
* The "hub and spoke" concept offers a more effective and practical model to meet the needs of business locations and town centres;
* Outer London competes with inner London only to a limited degree, in fact it competes much more directly with the counties adjacent to London known as the Outer Metropolitan Area (OMA);
* Consumer spending will be a major economic driver in outer London.

William McKee Chair of the Mayor’s Outer London Commission said: "Outer London has the potential to contribute greatly to capital’s economic success, but in these challenging financial times we must be realistic about the level of resources available to release that potential.

"Investing in town centres is a practical and cost effective way to not only grow jobs and businesses in outer London but revitalise what is for most people the heart of their community."

Have your say on this story using the comment section below