Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to the newest version of your browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of Construction News, please enable cookies in your browser.

Welcome to the Construction News site. As we have relaunched, you will have to sign in once now and agree for us to use cookies, so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Can the mayor of London maximise his soft power?

In the run-up to the Budget, mayor of London Sadiq Khan demanded more power and finance to boost housebuilding and improve infrastructure.

After Philip Hammond’s address to parliament, Mr Khan raged at the “most anti-London Budget in a generation”.

Without the money or control he wanted for ambitious development plans, the question is: what is Mr Khan able to deliver?

Since taking office Labour’s mayor has made little secret of the fact he sees the construction industry as of vital importance to the capital’s economy.

He’s thrown his weight behind many important projects for the sector.

The trouble is much of this support has come in the form of press releases rather than policy decisions.

The mayor’s office would argue that this will change tomorrow when Mr Khan reveals the full details of his “strategic planning bible” or “London Plan”.

In it the mayor will lay out his plans for a major housebuilding spree and significant infrastructure investment in projects like Crossrail 2.

But with limited legislative control, the enactment of many of these policies will come down to soft power coercion rather than hard power law-making.

The effectiveness of Mr Khan will be as much about wooing a room full of foreign investors as it will his passing laws at City Hall.

There is one area where the mayor does have hard power, though: planning.

Mr Khan can push through schemes that have been rejected by local bodies.

This is a power he has already made use of, such as when he bypassed two local council decisions to approve housing projects and green-lit a mixed-use development.

The power to push through London’s very biggest construction projects, however, remains at Westminster.

And Mr Khan can only watch as MPs dither on Heathrow’s third runway and debate the merits of Crossrail 2.

It’s all about making the right argument at the right time. And while Mr Khan may not have got the budget he desired, he may still be able to help shepherd through some of the projects that he wants.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.