Tuesday 3 May 2016 12:01 am

London mayor's office lacks powers to maintain capital's status as world-class city, AECOM warns

The London mayor's office lacks sufficient power to keep up with the capital's rapid expansion and deliver the housing and infrastructure needed to keep its status as a world-class city, a leading engineering company has warned. 

In a statement ahead of Thursday's mayoral election, AECOM claims that London has “outgrown” its traditional jurisdiction, which is defined by Greater London boundary limits put in place more than 50 years ago.

"With surging house and rent prices forcing increasing numbers of people beyond Greater London, the new mayor lacks the powers to orchestrate planning across this wider commuter belt as the mayoral office has no formal authority on a regional basis," AECOM said.

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The US-listed infrastructure services firm, which is consulting on Crossrail, HS2, and also master-planned the London Olympics, warns that this shortfall is putting London's ability to tackle the housing crisis. It is also endangering its status as one of the world's most competitive cities, the company said. 

Instead, AECOM has urged the next mayor to join forces with local authorities surrounding the capital "who want to share in economic growth" and, at the same time, to step up the use of so-called brownfield land if London is to deliver the 50,000 homes it needs each year to meet demand.

It adds that solving the housing crisis can only be achieved if building is planned alongside infrastructure and transport projects. 

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Patrick Flaherty, AECOM's chief executive for UK & Ireland, said: “The debate over London’s housing crisis remains a priority issue in the mayoral campaigns and a major focus for all the main candidates in their manifestos."

“London needs an ambitious, joined-up strategy for housing, infrastructure and employment growth if it is to keep its status among the world’s most successful cities. Consideration must be given to how this can be achieved, taking into consideration the limitations of the mayor’s authority which is confined to the formal Greater London boundaries,” Flaherty said.