A leading London business group has published a “blueprint for London’s post-pandemic urban environment”, focussing on housing supply, transport, decarbonisation, digitalisation, placemaking and “managing change”.
The report, produced by a team of experts appointed by BusinessLDN – previously known as London First – calls for increased government support for Transport for London, a new approach to public transport fares, a review of London’s planning governance, more public money for affordable homes, a review of Green Belt designations and more action on retrofitting homes in the capital in pursuit of net zero,
BusinessLDN’s “Place Commission” of 20 leading figures from the housing and property sectors, academia, transport, financial services and more, held its first meeting in May 2022 and completed its deliberations in February.
Chaired by Francis Salway, a widely-experienced former chief executive of developer Land Securities (LandSec), the commission sets out a vision for “an internationally competitive twenty-four-seven city rooted in diverse communities where places have a clear purpose and identity, and where people, businesses, cultural and educational institutions want to be, and where they feel safe”. It adds: “Crucially, new development and changes to the urban environment must be a bridge to a more equal and inclusive city.”
The report describes the Place Commission’s starting point as addressing the question: How could London best manage the change generated and accelerated by the pandemic in relation to its urban environment? It describes as “deliberate” a focus on streets, public realm and spaces, buildings and “supporting infrastructure”.
It reminds its readers that the capital’s “built form” has evolved over a long period and survived both the Great Fire and the Blitz as well as suburban expansion and post-war reconstruction, but stresses that “the sheer complexity and mix” of London poses new challenges as its population grows towards an expected 10 million by 2050.
Welcoming the report, TfL Commissioner Andy Lord endorsed its call for “a new long-term government funding settlement” to be agreed and described London as having become “an outlier, even among UK cities, in not having agreed long-term capital support”.
And Deputy Mayor for Planning Jules Pipe described the commission’s work as contributing “valuable thinking on how the capital can continue to thrive and flourish” in a context where the pandemic has made it “vital that we re-examine how London’s places and spaces should evolve” and the need for investment in affordable housing, transport and decarbonisation continues.
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