Opening address: Tony Travers, director of LSE, London
Ascot gives a feel of what better class of airport might feel like.
Success of west: Heathrow airport and good rail links, good road links and a large accessible labour market. Success has led to success.
Is everything set fare? Thames Valley and greater South East area are fairly successful but other countries that have rapidly expanding cities such as in China and Brasil. Well known city regions like London, New York & Tokyo are going to be challenged and in order to stay competitive are going to have to grow.
No planning is less and less likely to produce success. The Government can't not plan. In Britain what we've tended to do is build infrastructure in response to over crowding rather than to lead development. We follow rather than lead.
What the area needs, I would argue is the capacity to plan - in the East they have ability to plan. Other parts of the country are less able to make a case for infrastructure. Governance is an issue. Need to prod the political leaders in the area.
The expansion of Heathrow is very highly charged but something definitely needs to be done. Could be at Heathrow but could be somewhere else.
The roads are terribly congested and something does need to be done about that possibly more roads which is controversial definitely better rail and more housing but then conflict with the green belt.
Threats are a long period of sluggish growth. And if a future Government was to push very hard on the Thames Gateway. Last Government pushed Thames Gateway, lots of masterplans but faded away. If there was a massive investment to the East of the city there would be less money for the West.
With the airport there is a struggle ongoing and it's almost impossible to imagine what effect an airport in the Thames Estuary would have on the Thames Valley. It is the single biggest issue and threat if big airport in East, Heathrow could be closed. HS2 if not built is a threat.
Over zealous planning regulation is also a threat. If Cambridge had been developed in 19th century with 19th century planning rules it would have been a metropolis the size of Manchester. How can this part of the UK use underused green belt - it's an issue must be addressed.
It is an area of significant opportunity but I would argue that there needs to be a consistent planning approach and particularly improvement of infrastructure. Does need to be some way of the Thames Valley making planning for transport and infrastructure in a concerted way.
Needs to be a way of thinking collectively and delivering.