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20 things coming to London by 2050

Posted at 8:00 am, August 8, 2014 in Maps, News, Transport

Crossrail might seem eons away by the average Londoner’s schedule, but in urban planning terms it’s already old hat. The city’s masterminds are already hard at work on planning what London needs to stay amazing by 2050 – 36 years from now. Here’s what we’ve learned about the future of the city from their giant new report.

1) It’s going to get busy

London population projections

By next February there’ll be 8.6 million Londoners, finally overtaking the previous record high in 1939. But it won’t stop there: an estimated 11.3 million people will call London home, up 37 percent on the 2011 census. It’s going to be like Borough Market on a Saturday, except ‘everywhere’ and ‘all the time.’

2) It’ll be as multicultural as ever

Languages spoken in London

London is already a truly global city, and that shows no sign of abating demographically. In 2012, for example, more than half the babies born were children of first generation immigrants, and they’ll be 38 by 2050.

4) We’ll need to build 1.5 million new homes by 2050

St George's Estate and Vauxhall bridge - Tosh Marshall

That’s more than we currently have in Camden, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham, Haringey, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Lambeth, Lewisham, Newham, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth and Westminster put together. We’re going to need to build upwards, then…

5) On the one hand, we could just build more densely in the middle of London

Central London population density

6) On the other hand, we could try and build more intensively around local hubs

Local centres population density

3) The tube could get despair-inducingly busy 

Tube congestion

Large parts of the central Underground network might have more than four people standing in every square metre. Hopefully, in the future, everyone will shower frequently, or have their sweat glands genetically manipulated to emit the aroma of roses and libraries.

6) So transport capacity will need to grow by 70 percent

London Underground. Photo: Chris Billington

That’s the equivalent of 6,100 new buses on the roads, plus digging at least four more Central lines. (And building 70 percent of a new cable car, of course!) Amongst other things.

7) Of course, by then we’ll have Crossrail

Crossrail route map

The central section will run from December 2018. Although of course the commissioner for transport, Sir Peter Hendy has also said: ‘I predict that when Crossrail opens in 2018 it will be immediately full. The people who predicted that it will take all the traffic out of Oxford Street or that we’ll be able to sit down on the Central Line in the rush hour will be wrong. It will just be full up with people.’ So that’s good news then.

8) We’ll probably also have Crossrail 2: the sequel

Crossrail 2 - regional route

The exact route hasn’t been decided, but you’ll probably be able to travel from Tooting to Turnpike Lane.

9) And… Crossrail 3?

Crossrail 3

Nobody knows much about this and it hasn’t been ‘safeguarded’, but it’s thought it might link up Waterloo (for trains south) and Euston/St. Pancras (for trains north), much like Crossrail 1 connects Paddington and Liverpool Street. But the plan is clear: more Crossrails. Always more Crossrails.

10) The Bakerloo line could go deep into south London (!!!)

Bakerloo Line Extension

It could head along Walworth Road to Camberwell, then east to Peckham and onwards to Lewisham, Catford and potentially as far as Bromley. Or it might just ignore Camberwell and Peckham in favour of heading down Old Kent Road.

11) The Northern line’s extension might extend even further

Clapham Junction - Northern Line Extension

It’s already set to head to Nine Elms and Battersea, but it could stretch as far as Clapham Junction. An Underground connection at Clapham Junction? Imagine that.

11) And then there’s the South London Metro

‘Although there is an extensive and dense rail network in south London…connections and journey times are often no better than in the 1930s when the area’s railways were electrified,’ say the planners, ruefully. They intend to make it better in unspecified ways.

12) There’ll be new ways to avoid central London, too

Orbital rail routes - London 2050

Great news for anyone who’s ever tried to make the slow-ass journey from Deptford to Brixton, for example.

Orange lines everywhere

Hoxton Overground Station. Photo: Ben Sutherland

Most Londoners would agree that TfL has done a decent job of running the Overground. And TfL is inclined to agree, and would quite like to take over all suburban rail services in London by 2030.

In 2015 they’ll be starting by expanding their empire east…

New London Overground stations

13) Big screens at bus stops!

Big screens at London bus stops

More interactive, more maps.

14) And traffic underground…

Road Tunnel photo - David Salafia

[Photo: David Salafia]

There might just be a new central London ring road constructed partly – or entirely – underground, plus double and even triple-decker roads to relieve congestion.

15) …with self-driving cars!

Google Self-Driving Car Project

The report dedicates a lot of thought to a potential future where cars drive themselves. They identify one of the issues as ‘appeasing those who enjoy controlling the vehicle themselves.’ Get with the future, luddites! After all, ‘a fundamental challenge is to integrate AVs into a sustainable urban mobility paradigm’. Yes, yes it is.

16) We could end up thirsty – really thirsty

Water deficit - London 2050

If we don’t come up with something by 2050, we’ll be using 522 million litres of water more than we have. That’s per day, not per year.

17) The main plan here – no surprise – is to charge more for water so you use less

The largest area of savings identified is ‘metering and water efficiency’ and tarrifs. But also, fixing all those leaking pipes.

18) With all those houses… also needed: an extra 9,000 hectares of accessible green space

Waterlow Park - Highgate. Photo: Mike T

[Waterlow Park, Highgate. Photo: Mike T Photography]

That’s the equivalent of 63 Hyde Parks.

19) Here are some places they could go!

All London Green Plan

It’s all part of the All London Green Grid.

 20) But some things will always remain the same…

Public transport will have the same complex etiquette system and you’ll still never hear a Londoner say any of these things.

What do you think London’s going to be like in the future? Tweet us your ideas with the hashtag #London2050. 

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