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  • A very slight change of emphasis (not very different from your version, but I find it important): I wouldn't put it in terms of competition, but in terms of accessibility (as above). If you can buy something like what you want locally, even if perhaps the choice isn't as great as in Central London, but you don't have to go on a Tube or railway journey to get there, then you may choose greater accessibility over greater choice.

    Do fast rail links to central London kill off local development, or do they accelarate it?

    One really big example is Stratford, where being a growing transport hub justified the shopping center, which then attracted housing, which is supporting more shopping and offices.

    It's true on a smaller scale, too. Vauxhall has been gaining, not losing, restaurants and shops despite being on one of the best train links to the city immaginable.

    I think happens because people over-value options, even if they are never likely to use those options in practice. For example people who buy trucks "in case they need to carry something heavy" despite the fact they are always used for the commute to work.

    So people value links to London, but then end up shopping locally if they can because it's easier. But you have to have the option to get to the city, to persuade enough people to move there, to make the local services and jobs viable.

    A counter example might be Nine Elms, which is attracting people and jobs without a good rail link. But they've got the promise of two stations on the way, and the developers are subsidising private busses to try and cover the gap.

  • Rail links cause residential development/increases in house prices--see Metroland. For overall development mix, they're notoriously poor and don't cause better central places except where lines meet--the old crossroads principle--, hence the need for orbital rail to complement radial lines (which mostly meet in the centre). That can lead to well-mixed uses (but proximity to other, larger centres on the same line(s) generally makes that difficult or impossible, too).

    All the development areas you cite are mainly driven by the London Plan's strategies for addressing London's extremely fast population increase, apparently the fastest ever (for London), even faster than in the 19th and early 20th centuries--obviously facilitated by a long time of deprivation and population decrease in most areas post-war. For instance, Stratford is in the Lower Lea Valley Opportunity Area (which dates back to Livingstone) and under the Olympic Legacy SPG, and that (plus Westfield, planned since before the Olympics) has been the main driver for development there, not the recent improvements in rail links there (which are lagging behind demand):­nning/implementing-london-plan/opportuni­ty-areas/opportunity-areas/lower-lea-val­ley

    Stratford, of course, has long been a major rail hub, and the area on which Westfield and much of the Olympic Park now sit used to be the Stratford Rail Lands, a huge marshalling yard with associated rail industries. That's all long gone and has been replaced by the HS1 station and the Eurostar depot.­ls

    It still lacks connections it used to have, such as the famous Hall Farm curve:­Curve

    This would be a (relatively inexpensive) rail (re-)improvement that would certainly benefit Stratford. I think there are similar things like this further east, but I don't know what they are (and they may not be reinstatable).

    Vauxhall is an odd case--an area that despite its proximity to Westminster has long been poor, partly through being dominated by council estates and being blighted by the Vauxhall gyratory. It's long had massive unrealisable development potential, and most of that remains untapped. The main recent development there has been that of those horrendous 'buy-to-leave' riverside tower blocks. I'm sure a more affluent population has recently moved in where it could.

    Again, the main beneficiaries from those purely radial rail links, aside from private landlords, are landowners in Central London. The main impetus behind most development in London, however, is simply rapid population increase (and population decrease elsewhere).

    Well, this debate is really getting rather wider than Crossrail. :)