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Livingstone's 'London plan' piles on election pressure

London mayor Ken Livingstone will next week mark the start of his second year in office by finally publishing the proposals document for the capital's Spatial Development Strategy - four months late and against allegations that he has wrestled control of the document from his deputy Nicky Gavron.

Livingstone will kick off a three-month period of consultation on the document - called Towards the London Plan - when the Greater London Authority unveils it next Tuesday (8 May) in a special launch session on Tower Bridge. The document sets out how the authority wants to see the capital develop over the next 15-20 years, before a full Spatial Development Strategy draft is published in late 2001 or early 2002.

But Gavron rejected suggestions that Livingstone had ordered a rewrite by his economic advisor John Ross after he was unhappy at an initial draft completed by Gavron and advisor Martin Simmonds. 'The truth is that none of us has written it - it's an edited document from something much bigger and there are expressions in there which people will recognize from me, such as the importance of world cities, and others from people such as John about the importance of global activities, ' Gavron told the AJ.

Gavron said the 30-plus page document with illustrations will bear the strapline 'to make London an exemplary sustainable world city' and that it was intended to be published after the general election. Now, though, some of its aims - which will include fiscal measures and mechanisms to achieve them - may become an election issue, ever since prime minister Tony Blair pushed back the general election date, probably to June. The document will set out how development should be focused around transport interchanges and how transport infrastructure projects such as Crossrail and Orbirail will aid corridors of development (AJ 22.3.01). It will also look at politically sensitive issues such as housing provision, along with masterplanning, energy and strategic planning.

'The document has been virtually ready since Christmas, ' said Gavron. The delay from its very first proposed publication date of January this year has stemmed from a 'robust debate' about the 'structuring' of the material.

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