I’ve not seen anything yet that suggests that Outer London Commission chairman William McKee is anything other than competent, which for a Boris appointee is near-miraculous, but today’s news (h/t Tory Troll) suggests that the OLC isn’t going to go down in history as a great turning point in the history of Outer London:

Plans to create a clutch of so-called “super hubs” and a high speed orbital transport route around outer London were yesterday ditched by London Mayor Boris Johnson.

Acting on recommendations in the Outer London Commission’s interim conclusions, City Hall said the drive to boost economic prosperity across the suburbs will focus on attracting new business and customers to existing town centres.

‘Superhubs’, you may remember, were floated back in March by McKee with sufficient buoyancy to make it to the Standard’s property section, so if they’ve been shot down by the boroughs it does tend to suggest either that they were a silly idea or that the boroughs don’t want Stalinist central planning Boris-style for the next 20 years and told him to get stuffed.  Possibly both.

Now, forgive me for being stupid, but surely town centres of any magnitude already know that attracting new business and customers is quite important?  Hence the creation of things like shopping malls and office and leisure parks dotted around outer London over the last couple of decades.  What’s also happened is an attendant increase in road congestion because they were usually (with a few honourable and recent exceptions) placed with the assumption that someone would magically create a massive road network to support them, which hasn’t really happened, leaving them in many cases hard to access by public transport.  Thus they end up being the cause of a great deal of traffic on inadequate roads moving people who, given the choice, might well leave the car at home.  It doesn’t so far sound like much is going to be done about this, instead we’re going to see a bit of mild encouragement to more development in the outer town centres but without much joined up thinking on the required (read: expensive) transport links.  There’s a hint of what is being suggested in the article:

The commission, which is headed by former Merton LBC chief executive William McKee, said town centres should be turned into transport hubs into which routes from outer areas would feed into. This would make better use of existing transport networks and help town centres to attract new businesses and customers, it said.

Whew, I’m amazed no one thought of putting transport hubs into areas that have a high demand for transport before.  We could call them ‘stations’ or something.  I’m also amazed no one in Outer London has ever come up with their own ideas for transport before.  Oh, they have*.  Are you listening Boris?  These are your people talking (see extremely interesting minutes of 17/6 meeting in Ealing where the WLA presented their case – look for a Boris-scaring reference to ‘civil war between the boroughs’ from the Leader of Ealing Council).

* Ten point plan from West London Alliance (which includes Boris-friendly boroughs like Harrow, Hillingdon, Ealing, Hounslow and LBHF):

  • Smart travel, such as Travel Plans to reduce congestion
  • Keep trips local by improving local facilities and encouraging walking/cycling
  • Improve orbital public transport, interchanges and better customer information
  • Integrate new development with transport infrastructure, including future planned transport improvements
  • Long term major investment in big transport infrastructure plans such as the West London Orbital (a kind of underground DLR from Surbiton to Brent Cross via Kingston/Richmond/Ealing)
  • Look after the needs of Heathrow and the freight industry

Yes, I know that’s only six…

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