NLA has had a bumper year of activity. Here, we bring you the best of 2019, along with a round-up from our Curator-in-chief Peter Murray.
London is a remain city. London’s best interests would be served by remaining within the European Union. But we are where we are, and we must make the best of it.London is also a very resilient city. Its fundamental strengths as a business centre remain whatever deals are done with the EU and the rest of the world. We are an unrivalled global centre for design and construction skills; we are well located for international businesses; we are popular as a location for headquarters, sitting at the nexus of European, Asian and US time zones.
The new government has plans to invest in the poorest sections of our society, putting more money into schools, police and the NHS. This is the right thing to do, yet Boris Johnson should remember from his time as Mayor of London that not all of the UK’s poorest communities are north of the Humber. London, with a third of boroughs within the top 30 per cent most deprived across England, remains comparatively more deprived than the country as a whole. Let us hope that the low representation of Tories among London Members of Parliament will not mean we are deprived of essential infrastructure that we will need if we are to continue as the key driver of the UK economy. In the coming year NLA will be expanding its dialogue programme to engage with cities like Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle, in the the spirit of promoting a less divided Britain.
During 2019 we have been strengthening the NLA’s structure to respond to the challenges that face us. We have created an integrated team to deliver not only the traditional NLA programme, but also the London Festival of Architecture, the London Real Estate Forum and the London Stand at MIPIM. We now have an unrivalled network of companies and individuals working within the design and development sector in order to deliver our mission of ‘bringing people together to shape a better city.
2019 has been a busy year with over 1000 events attended by 115,000 people; we’ve succeeded in getting a good balance of speakers with 41 per cent of them female in an industry that still has some way to go to achieve an appropriate balance. We have also hosted groups of key players from cities around the world with over 2000 delegates – Mayors, Planners, Developers, Investors and Architects. During the year I, and other members of the NLA team, have been putting out the London message in overseas cities including Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Hyderabad, Copenhagen, Prague, New York, Chicago and San Francisco. In 2020, we will be ramping up our international programme in response to the UK’s changing place in the world, with more of our low-carbon conferences, sharing intelligence via video links with New York, Chicago, Sydney and Stockholm. We look forward to working with London and Partners, the Mayor’s promotional agency, on enhancing our global networks.
Next year will also be our 15th anniversary. The central plank of our programme will be to reprise an exhibition that we held at NLA in 2005 – The Changing Face of London. This will look at projects then and now: developments like King’s Cross, Stratford, Nine Elms, White City, the City Cluster and Barking Riverside, to track the huge changes that have taken place in the capital over that period and putting them into the context of the unprecedented growth of cities around the world.
Now that we have a degree of certainty about Brexit, we expect projects that have been delayed in recent months to now move forward. As we all know, London needs lots of housing but it also needs more offices, where supply is getting very tight, as well as schools and hospitals. Despite the political chaos of recent months, at NLA we are optimistic. We have every confidence that the world’s greatest city will ride the storms and we look forward to a successful new year.