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London Plan facing derailment due to missing Crossrail cash

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The future of Ken Livingstone's draft London Plan is in doubt following major setbacks to the capital's two key transport projects.

The plan could come unstuck following the news that the planned Crossrail scheme has a £1 billion hole in its finances. The development proposed by Livingstone in the document - launched in June (AJ 27.6.02) - relies on significant improvements to London's transport infrastructure - principally Crossrail and the Thameslink line.

Cross London Rail Links, the firm set up to run the most advanced part of the Crossrail project, has admitted it has yet to raise the cash needed from private investors. BDP, the Design Research Unit and Aukett Europe have all been commissioned to design stations for the line.

New planning minister Lord Rooker has given his backing to a critical document on the Thameslink project. The report criticises designs for Blackfriars Station, London Bridge Station and the widening of the Borough High Street viaduct - all essential for the scheme's success.

Members of the GLA's Planning and Spatial Development Committee have been critical of the plan for its over-reliance on Crossrail, making it a 'hostage to fortune'. Committee chair Bob Neil told the AJ that the state of Crossrail's finances are 'very troubling' for Livingstone's plans.

'The mayor has misjudged the mood of the government, ' he said. 'He thought that it would give the money for Crossrail from the public purse but it looks unlikely now.'

Observers agreed that the plan was in trouble.

Irving Yass, director of policy at London First, a lobby group for many of the capital's businesses, said he understood that Cross London Rail Links had found raising the £1 billion from private sources extremely difficult. He also predicted the government would fail to persuade parliament to allow the use of public sector money to fill the gap.

'The London Plan is completely dependent upon Crossrail, ' he said. 'And would come to very little if it does not get the go ahead.'However, a spokesperson from the mayor's office claimed: 'The mayor remains confident there will be a solution.'

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