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LONDON-Business in London has been promised quicker planning decisions and better transport under a new Economic Development Strategy, launched yesterday by the London Development Agency. The first strategic programme for economic growth in the capital in 16 years also aims to share the benefits of London’s economic boom with some of the city’s poorer districts.

Speaking at the launch of the new strategy, Mayor Ken Livingstone said priority would be given to providing new office accommodation–even if this meant skyscrapers–and to simplifying planning generally. But he added: ‘We must also make sure that London people get their fair share of the new jobs.’

The new report notes that jobs and population in London have grown steadily since the 1980s and are forecast to continue doing so. But this growth has not been matched by adequate investment in infrastructure or public services. London is now experiencing critical shortages in transport, skills, housing and business premises.

The LDA claims widespread support for its strategy but the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors warned that it risks being too diffused to be effective. The RICS welcomed the LDA’s pro-growth approach but says it would do better to concentrate on a few key London-wide issues, address problems with the delivery of these and then let local partnerships and London Boroughs implement them at a local level.

‘We are concerned that there may be too many visions for London with no clear means of realising them,’ says RICS senior policy officer Joanna Sumner.

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