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London Mayor hails potential for future growth of capital but rues rise in kneejerk judicial reviews
London Mayor Ken Livingstone has given a rallying speech to Mipim delegates concerning the future growth of the capital, but complained that development is generating "endless work" for the legal profession. Speaking exclusively to The Lawyer following his speech at the exhibition's pivotal London stand, Livingstone said: "We're building a world fit for lawyers to find endless work in." Asked how the legal profession fits into his hopes for the capital, Livingstone said: "Everyone's response to everything now is judicial review. "I used it myself on London Underground and it will be used to challenge my congestion charge. Judicial review used to be quite a rare event; now it seems to be a normal part of political challenge." He added: "Lawyers advise me at every stage. Everybody now is so litigious. I can't get up in the morning without legal advice." Livingstone, accompanied by London Assembly member Nicky Gavron, was attending Mipim for the first time this year. In an upbeat speech, he said: "There's no doubt whatsoever when you look at Europe and North America that there's a major renaissance of the great cities. London is unique because it is one of three great financial centres and dominates a continent and a time zone."
"Ken Livingstone on lawyers: 'I want to work with you. We don't have to love each other, but by God we can do good for each other'"
Livingstone spoke about the growing role of his administration's planning department in shaping the capital's growth. "The London boroughs are increasingly coming to our planning department for its expertise and its ability to conduct Section 106 [of the Town and Country Planning Act 1980 regarding socially beneficial developements] negotiations," he said. He advised developers to approach his planning office at an earlier stage so that they could put together a package that the borough councils would be happy with. Delegates heard that population growth would effectively add a city the size of Leeds to London by 2015, when the population is expected to reach 8.1 million. Business services will see tremendous growth and need appropriate office space, he said. Livingstone was buoyant about the recent planning decision to allow architect Renzo Piano's vast London Bridge Tower to go ahead. It is set to be Europe's tallest building. "I made it clear that if I was elected mayor I'd abolish height restrictions and density restrictions. Great world cities need a critical mass," he said. But Livingstone avoided any mention of the ongoing battle between developers and English Heritage. "You can rely on me and Judith [Mayhew, of the Corporation of London] to clear the crap out of the way and get good decisions," said Livingstone. "I want to work with you. We don't have to love each other, but by God we can do good for each other. "There are great opportunities to come in London. You will not encounter the negative, nimbyish attitude that existed."