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London Plan a double-edged sword, Livingstone admits

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Plans for London could be a blueprint for every city on earth if they succeed, but could turn the capital into a futuristic nightmare if they fail, London mayor Ken Livingstone admitted last week.

Giving evidence to the Greater London Authority's spatial development strategy investigative committee, set up to scrutinise his London Plan, Livingstone tried to quell fears about his ideas. 'If we can create a city that continues to grow and that's tolerable, it will be a blueprint for every city on the planet and especially in the third world, ' he said.

But if his plans backfired they could lead to a 'monstrous city along the lines of Blade Runner', the dystopian sci-fi film, he added.

Committee members were angry about what they saw as Livingstone's obsession with central London at the expense of suburbs. Conservative member Bob Neill, who chairs the committee, said: 'To most people London is about neighbourhoods. This seems to be conceived very much in terms of pushing development in the centre and specific areas. It's like a centralised plan, ' he said.

Neill also queried whether strict levels of affordable housing would lead to fewer new homes.

Livingstone countered that around 60 per cent of new jobs were created in five central boroughs over recent years.And he said that developers were not deterred from working in boroughs with councils which insisted on 50 per cent of housing schemes being reserved for affordable homes - such as Hammersmith and Fulham.

Design was still a big problem, Livingstone added. 'Where developers bring forward a tall building they are using good architects, ' he said.

'What's striking is the sheer mediocrity of medium and low-rise developments we examine.'

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