Crossrail: Property bosses say any further delay will ‘threaten future investment in London’

Naomi Ackerman and Joanna Bourke
·3-min read
<p>Crossrail has been beset by delays</p> (PA)

Crossrail has been beset by delays

(PA)

Property bosses have called on the Government to ensure Crossrail is completed as they believe any further delay will severely hamper the capital's economic recovery.

The London Property Alliance (LPA) and New West End Company wrote to Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Tuesday following reports that Transport for London commissioner Andy Byford told the Department for Transport the delay-beset infrastructure project required an extra £80 million in urgent funding to avoid being "mothballed".

Crossrail - Europe’s biggest construction project stretching from Berkshire to Essex via central London -was originally set to open in December 2018, but opening has now been pushed back until at least the first half of 2022.

The original £15 billion budget is nearing £20 billion.

LPA executive director, Charles Begley, and New West End Company chief executive, Jace Tyrell, stated that any further delay would have severe economic consequences.

They wrote: "Any further delays to Crossrail would threaten future investment in London, as well as impede the future recovery from Covid-19 for thousands of businesses in the capital, in turn threatening livelihoods and national economic growth.

"Employers and their employees need certainty, and London and other great cities across the country need confidence that the all layers of our Government - local, London and national - is able to work through political differences to support strategically important projects which affect a significant proportion of the population."

They added: "This regional infrastructure project has had significant levels of funding from taxpayers and the private sector to date - including contributions from the property industry though the Crossrail levy, and up-front investment in over-station developments. Now more than ever, we need to work together to speed up completion. At this extremely sensitive time for the national economy, the UK simply cannot afford to delay Crossrail’s delivery."

Fellow business leaders have also said the project's completion is vital to show London will soon be “open for business”.

Matthew Jaffa, senior external affairs manager for London at the Federation of Small Businesses, told the Standard on Monday that "the completion of this vital piece of infrastructure is a must to demonstrate that London is getting prepared to be open for business".

His concerns were echoed by Helen Brocklebank, CEO of British luxury trade body, Walpole, which represents more than 270 UK brands from Burberry to Jimmy Choo.

Ms Brocklebank said: "Crossrail has always been seen as bringing a huge boost to Bond Street and West End retail and we need it more than ever if central London is to bounce back from the pandemic.”

A Government spokesperson said: "The Government remains committed to the efficient completion of the project, in a way that is fair to UK taxpayers, and that ensures London - as the primary beneficiary of Crossrail – bears the additional costs.

“We are working with the Greater London Authority and Transport for London to develop a funding solution to see Crossrail’s completion.

“It is unfortunate, in contrast to other construction projects, the Mayor chose to unnecessarily halt work on Crossrail during the pandemic.”

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