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Opinion: Planning for future a tough balancing act

PUBLISHED: 08:00 15 October 2017

The Conservative Party candidates for Havering. Julia Dockerill

The Conservative Party candidates for Havering. Julia Dockerill

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Catering to London’s growing population while protecting and enhancing people’s quality of life has long been one of the great challenges facing policymakers.

To meet that challenge, each of London’s boroughs is asked to set out a Local Plan explaining how they intend to manage development over the next 15 years.

It is a tough balancing act, not least as it involves making predictions about the population and the economy that may not come to pass, and trying to work out how our area might be affected by development elsewhere.

Havering has recently been consulting on its own draft Local Plan to make sure we have the right number of new homes and the right kind of services in future.

The government announced plans this month to boost housebuilding to help more people onto the ladder and into better quality rental homes, and I shall soon be visiting some of the sites earmarked for regeneration in our own borough.

However, more homes will inevitably add pressure to our infrastructure, and this week I met our local hospital chiefs to press them not just on the quality of existing services but how their future strategy for Queen’s and King George caters to our growing population and its changing needs.

Crossrail will soak up some of the new demand on our transport system but the government has earmarked cash to improve the capacity of big junctions like the one connecting the A12 to the M25, and is drawing up plans to build an additional river crossing to divert traffic away from the Dartford Crossing. Managed correctly, that new crossing could unlock the potential of the Lower Thames Valley in a way that relieves areas like our own, creates fresh economic opportunity and brings community benefits such as investment in local green spaces.

If council and government plans are stitched together in the right way, Havering could be London’s next big opportunity and by 2031, one of the most successful and attractive outer boroughs.

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