Better transport may not boost rents

David Lawson - 2002


Plans to make landlords pay for transport improvements in London could fail because better access does not automatically lead to higher rents, according to new research revealed at the British Council for Offices annual conference in Edinburgh.  But the business community must still fight for services like Crossrail or  politicians could slam the door on all new development because of soaring congestion.

  London Mayor Ken Livingstone has commissioned KPMG to look at property values as a way of paying for transport improvements. ‘This would be a development land tax by default,’ head of research at DTZ Tie Leung Joe Valente told a BCO seminar. ‘But there is no simple relationship between values and transport.’

  He admitted that  rents increased when the Jubilee Line opened but the premium only lasted a few years. And he insisted that better access alone was not enough to increase values. Other factors are critical, such as the state of a local economy, availability of sites and the support of  planners. Business should still fight for improvements, however, or the Greater London Authority could one day put up a ‘house full’ notice on the capital.

    Joe Weiss, transport adviser to the City of London Corporation, told the seminar that the ‘ring of steel’ thrown up after the IRA bomb blasts was the biggest transport change since the war but had no impact on values. This was because rail access was maintained. 

   The capital is different to the rest of the country, where 87% of people travel to work by road. In London fewer than 40% of workers have access to a car. Crossrail would be a critical new service but unless the business community lobbied hard it could fail to be approved this year. That could kill the chances forever, as builders would not hold back from deep piling along the proposed route.

   The million commuters a day who mainly arrive by rail deserve better because they generate 70% of the city’s GDP, said Valente.  The new research showed businesses consider accessibility and punctuality more important than costs like rents and could be driven out if these declined further.