Growing a global metropolis

London is growing at its fastest rate in modern history. Population growth presents an opportunity to grow London’s economic capability and competitiveness in its own terms and against international peers. But if London is to succeed, radical changes will be required. As a core enabler of growth, optimal and increased investment in infrastructure is critical. Arup was enlisted to work with the GLA to provide an assessment of the costs associated with London’s long-term infrastructure requirements, and to provide a series of recommendations on how this infrastructure development could be funded.

Arup’s work shone a light on the strategic requirement for a step change in the planning, funding and delivery of London’s infrastructure. Using a bespoke cost model – informed by their technical cross-sector specialists – Arup calculated that the cost would exceed £1.3 trillion.

Approximately 80% of this was in the Housing and Transport sector, this resulted in a funding gap of £130m for these sectors alone. In response, Arup highlighted funding sources of between £3 billion and £80billion and provided recommendations ranging from efficiency savings, increases in taxes and revenues from increased fiscal devolution. Since completing the report, Arup’s recommendations around supply chain efficiency, improved risk management, coordinated cross-body leadership and programme management can now be evidenced in the GLA’s approach to strategically important initiatives like the Mayor’s opportunity areas. Infrastructure in the 33 opportunity areas – which include Old Oak Common and Nine Elms – is now planned, delivered and funded in a more coordinated fashion.

Arup’s study provides evidence that the GLA has the competency to govern at a city level and allowed the GLA to deliver their London Infrastructure Plan 2050 in December 2014. Arup’s Alexander Jan now sits on the GLA’s Infrastructure Delivery Board and the two teams continue to work together. This includes a new efficiency saving project in 2015 based on recommendations from the study.

Arup and the GLA’s project is one of the most comprehensive infrastructure costing exercises ever completed for a global metropolis. And it has spawned the most comprehensive infrastructure plan completed for a global metropolis to date. Strategically London is now ahead of the game. The city is prepared for growth. Other cities will be closely watching how London’s plans evolve. Friends in Hong Kong, New York, Shanghai and Singapore take note.

Arup's work with Greater London Authority was named the Strategy Project of the Year at the 2016 Awards.