Wider South East neighbours work together to build more homes and create more jobs

14th February 2018

Leaders (on 26 January) from across the political spectrum in the South East and the East of England met with the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to kick-start joint plans for creating a more inclusive and prosperous society for their shared 24 million residents.

City Hall hosted the Wider South East Summit which saw more than 100 council leaders and councillors - from West Oxfordshire to Shepway in Kent and from Norwich to Lewes in Sussex - discuss the best ways to accommodate sustainable growth in the south of England.

Sadiq highlighted the importance of strengthening political relationships and effective partnership working on joint lobbying for strategic infrastructure improvements, such as Crossrail 2.

Leaders from South East and East called for closer working to help overcome barriers that are holding back delivery of planned homes across the whole wider south east. Estimates show a combined backlog of at least 373,000 homes where developers have been given planning permission but not built the housing promised.

The summit also discussed how the Mayor’s draft London Plan, which is currently open for consultation, could impact on London’s neighbours. Sadiq’s plan sets out a blueprint for future development and sustainable, inclusive growth in London - but it relies on effective joint working with partners outside of the capital.

On working with local authorities in the wider South East of England from across the political spectrum Sadiq said:

“London is a leading global city – and we have many unique strengths. But I’m fully aware that we’re not an island – and much of what we’ve achieved has been enabled by our connections with the people, businesses and places across the wider South East.

“Our communities, our economies and our housing markets are intrinsically linked. And one of the biggest common challenges we face is how we deal with the expected population boom - how we meet the demand for new, affordable homes, how we create the space for new jobs and businesses, and how we deliver the future infrastructure we need.”

The Mayor also told attendees that a closer working relationship will give the wider South East of England a better voice when it came to lobbying Government on major infrastructure projects.

Sadiq believes this is particularly true for schemes such as Crossrail 2. This proposed new rail link across the wider South East region would increase the capital’s rail capacity by 10 per cent– adding capacity for 270,000 passengers during the morning peak – cutting journey times, improving connections and accessibility. Crossrail 2 would also enable up to 200,000 homes to be built.

He said: “We can also be united on fighting for the infrastructure we need across the wider South East – and agree on the phasing of priority projects. By combining our huge economic and political power, I’m confident we can help drive through the infrastructure projects we need.

“One key example is Crossrail 2. This is absolutely crucial - not only for London, but for many of the areas you represent too.  So, in the year Crossrail 1 is starting, let's keep on working together to ensure Crossrail 2 becomes a reality."

Cllr David Finch, Chairman of the East of England Infrastructure and Growth Group and Leader of Essex County Council, said: “We recognise the important connections within the wider South East, and it is now more crucial than ever that we work together in a way which ensures that infrastructure investment and growth benefits all of us. Through greater collaboration we can secure our future economic prosperity and maintain our collective position as the economic heart of the nation.”

Linda Haysey, Deputy Chair of East of England Infrastructure and Growth Group and Leader of East Hertfordshire District Council, said: “Councils in the East of England welcome this commitment by the Mayor of London, which we hope will secure mutual benefits for our respective economies”.

Nicolas Heslop, Chair of South East England Councils and Leader of Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council, said: “The summit is an excellent opportunity for South East council leaders to discuss the draft London Plan directly with the Mayor and his team. In particular, our members welcome the Mayor's ambition to meet all London’s housing need in the capital itself. We also want to continue joint working to overcome barriers to house building and to press for the infrastructure investment that we all need across London, South East and East of England to maintain our shared economic success."

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