With London's Commuter Belt Expanding, Should the Capital's Boundaries be Redrawn?

By Gerald Lynch on at

The Big Smoke has always drawn people from up and down the country looking for work. But with the economic recovery forcing people to look further afield for both jobs and affordable housing, London currently sees an unprecedented number of commuters venturing in each day from the fringes of the capital. With the economy increasingly driven by those just outside of London, is it time to rethink the capital's borders?

Barney Stringer, director of London-based planning consultancy Quod, makes a good argument for expanding the capital's boundaries over at Quartz. The blue areas in the above map show districts where more people commute into London than there are actual local jobs to accommodate them. As of the 2011 census, 800,000 people commute into London to work and, with the population booming, that's likely increased significantly even within three short years.

Regional infrastructure is poorly equipped to handle this daily flow of life, making investment into the likes of Crossrail and Thameslink increasingly important. But Stringer makes a very interesting point -- despite their daily reliance on inner-city services, commuter council tax doesn't go back into London coffers. And, likewise, should the same commuters have a gripe with the way these services are run, they're unable to do more than moan about it on Twitter as they aren't located in a place where their votes would make a difference.

So, is it time to rethink London's border lines? We've done it twice before in 1965 and further back in 1889 -- during this period of rapid change for the city, it's as justified as its ever been. Or does the South East need to retain its local independence -- and identity -- for fear of Great Britain simply being consumed by the United Boroughs of London? [Quartz]