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Boris Could Be Good For Builders In The Capital

May 20, 2008
Boris is back...and this time as the Mayor of London. What does his election mean for builders and tradesmen in the Capital?

The Mayor has a number of responsibilities which are critical to builders and developers. He makes London-wide policy on planning and gives the go-ahead (or refuses) large building projects. He manages Trafalgar Square and Westminster Square Garden and has powers regarding housing in the metropolis.

Since October 2007 he has had increased powers in the areas of housing and planning. To influence housing he now sets out priorities to meet the housing needs of Londoners and he decides how public money for new affordable housing will be spent. On planning, he now has a stronger say on whether the draft local plans of the boroughs are in line with the Mayor's Spatial Development Strategy for London ("The London Plan"). He also has wide discretions to determine planning applications of strategic importance.

Mayor Johnson will have to publish his London Plan in the coming months, when his aims will be clarified, but here's a taster of what it's likely to contain, according to what he's said during the last couple of months of electioneering.

Boris Johnson has said he wants to build 50,000 new affordable homes over the next three years. And he has stressed that these should be "desirable" rather than merely "decent". He wants these to include family homes with gardens and not just blocks of one and two bedroom flats. He'd like to see variety and good design, rather than streets of mundane dwellings. So that should keep quite a few builders busy.

He also wants the 84,000 empty homes in London to be renovated and brought back into use - so plenty of work for electricians, plumbers, decorators, plasterers and other trades.

Mayor Johnson has a policy of "designing out crime". By this he means ensuring streets and open spaces are well lit, so that people feel less vulnerable and there are no dark corners for criminals to lurk in.

On large, public projects Boris has been outspoken. He has criticised the Government's proposals for expanding Heathrow and favours the development of a new airport for the capital in the Thames Estuary which he believes would disturb far fewer residents and, therefore, also be safer. He cites Hong Kong and Washington as major cities which have relocated their main airport in recent times. Of course the development of such a project would not only involve huge amounts of work for the construction industry at the airport itself, but also in producing an infrastructure to make the airport useable and efficient.

He is also keen to protect our views of historic buildings. He has highlighted Unesco's announcement that it considers the Tower of London and the Palace of Westminster potential candidates for the endangered list of world heritage sites. This, Boris says is an embarrassment, so we can assume that proposals for high rise buildings near equivalent buildings will not be kindly looked upon.

He believes that green is beautiful. He wants to use his powers to protect London's green belt and is against new building developments in gardens.

Mayor Johnson is of course the figurehead and has responsibility for the management and delivery of two huge building projects: the 16 billion pound Crossrail project - the east west rail link across London that will begin in 2010, and the 9.3 billion pound Olympic Village project that will enjoy world focus from August 2008, when the Beijing Olympics will be over. In addition the modernisation of the tube network will come under his remit.

Boris Johnson has had a colourful career, his financial stewardship of large projects is untested and his ability to manage a large administrative machine is unproven. He is prone to gaffes and plays up to his upper class "buffoon" image. But with a busy four years ahead, his honeymoon period will be short and he'll need to get on with the job. Hopefully that means builders will have lots to get on with too.
About the Author
Expert builder India Cooper discusses what the election of the new London Mayor will mean for the Capital's builders. To find out more please visit http://www.ratedpeople.com/find/builder
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