Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Expand London to House a Million Northerners, Says Tory Think Tank

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Expand London to House a Million Northerners, Says Tory Think Tank

Article excerpt

Byline: PAUL WAUGH

ONE million northerners will arrive in London looking for work and the capital should be made bigger to house them, a report by David Cameron's favourite think tank said today.

The study by Policy Exchange recommends the capital's suburbs be expanded, and warned this was the only realistic way of improving the wealth of those in the regions.

The comments are certain to embarrass Mr Cameron today as he embarks on a three-day tour of the North-West.

The think tank said a decade of Labour's regeneration policies had failed to narrow the north-south divide and the Government should accept that cities such as Liverpool should be allowed to shrink.

The report, Cities Unlimited, recommends expanding London by 450,000 homes. "There is every reason to think that London is currently below its economically optimal size and that it is capable of generating many more jobs," it says. "If it did so by attracting people from our regeneration cities, then it could transform their lives." It suggests it is time to be "realistic" about the ability of cities such as Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle to regenerate struggling neighbours Liverpool, Bradford and Sunderland.

"No one is suggesting that residents should be forced to move but we do argue they should be told the reality of the position: regeneration, in the sense of convergence, will not happen because it is not possible," it says.

Restrictions on housebuilding in the South-East should be lifted to lower property prices and stop people on low incomes being "trapped" in less prosperous parts of the country, the report adds. Authors Tim Leunig, from the London School of Economics, and James Swaffield, from Policy Exchange, recommend increasing the size of London by allowing landowners to convert industrial land into residential land. …

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