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Livingstone London Plan 'unrealistic'

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London mayor Ken Livingstone's 20-year vision for the capital, the £100 billion London Plan, could prove unachievable, according to his critics.

Livingstone launched the draft plan last week, which sets out a major programme of infrastructure, housing and office developments for the city (see page 6). But critics have claimed that without the political will and financial resources, it could be impossible to implement.

Tory Greater London Assembly member Tony Arbour, who chaired the scrutiny committee which followed the progress of the plan, criticised it as 'unrealistic'. And he said the high targets for affordable housing would be a disincentive for developers - the plan relies heavily on private investment to fund the programme of work. 'Ken may see himself as a Sir Christopher Wren, ' he said, 'but he doesn't have a king for a patron as Wren did. A lot of it is motherhood and apple pie. I'm not sure who in London will bring the plan into reality.'

Business lobby group London First agreed that deliverability was the main worry - particularly affordable housing. And CABE chief executive Jon Rouse, though widely applauding the objectives set out, agreed that 'deliverability is the key'.

However, deputy mayor Nicky Gavron defended the plan against the criticisms. Gavron told the AJ that fears that the financial resources would not be available to implement the plan were unfounded.

Urgent discussions are under way with planning minister Lord Rooker for an extra £150 million a year, she said, adding that it was in central government's own interest to back the plan. 'I expect central government support to be there.'

Gavron said she was confident that developers would invest in the housing programme: 'I can't imagine that developers, the construction and investment industries would throw away the massive opportunities that will be presented over the next few years.' And she added that delivery mechanisms were spelt out in the plan, principally through partnerships between the GLA and its family organisations, Transport for London and the London Development Agency. And the mayor will use his powers to influence the boroughs through their UDPs, she said. 'It is such an exciting time for architects, 'Gavron added.And she pledged that quality of design would be a central priority in the implementation of the vision.

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