New London Architecture

Mayor Khan resolves to build back a better London

Thursday 04 February 2021

David Taylor

Editor, NLQ and New London Weekly

Sadiq Khan

Mayor of London
Greater London Authority

Laura Citron

Laura Citron

CEO
London & Partners

Catherine McGuinness

Chair of the Policy and Resources Committee
City of London Corporation

Councillor Darren Rodwell

Leader of the Council
London Borough of Barking & Dagenham and Be First

Graeme Craig

Director of Commercial Development
Transport for London

Nick Searl

Managing Partner of Argent and Partner of Argent Related
Argent Related

London mayor Sadiq Khan has pledged that London can build back better and become ‘a better place to live and work after this pandemic than it was before’.

Khan was speaking at Opportunity London, a webinar session at this week’s LREF Investment Summit arranged to debate key issues raised around the new NLA report of the same name.

In his recorded address, Khan said that it was clear we are living through an incredibly difficult time for the capital, the pandemic inflicting a heavy toll on communities, business and mental health. But it has also exposed and exacerbated inequalities and needs to concentrate on its strengths including its dynamism, pace and forward-looking nature. ‘We’re a beacon for inclusion, a global hub for innovation and a creative hotbed that’s overflowing with energy, ideas and imagination’, he said. Emerging stronger from the crisis will need ‘good growth that is sustainable, inclusive, and benefits all our communities’, said Khan. ‘We need to act now to plant the seeds for a green recovery’.

London & Partners’ Laura Citron said in a global context of falling investment, London was proving ‘reasonably resilient’, with 100 new investors landed into London so far this year, albeit ones who are now exercising more caution. The capital has fundamental strengths, she added, but ‘needs to keep an eye on’ two in particular – our reputation for supportive regulation and our ‘world class lifestyle’.

 ‘As we recover from COVID we need to make sure that our culture and our visitor economy are still strong’, 

Catherine McGuinness of the City agreed that we need to build on London’s ‘fundamental strengths’, particularly openness, global connections, innovative ecosystem, business infrastructure and access to talent and skills as well as that ‘vibrant cultural offer’. McGuinness said that businesses were showing ‘real commitment’ to their central office spaces but to use them in a different hybrid fashion. The City has established a Recovery Task Force and aims to make sure that planning allows for the ‘sort of offices people want to come to’ with ‘an outstanding environment for people to enjoy’, as well as policies to move towards net zero.

Barking and Dagenham leader Darren Rodwell said local government had been ‘exemplary’ in ‘gluing the community together’. Opportunity London was, he added, ‘a fantastic report that gives us the grounding to say to the world: look, we are a world city and we are world-connected. ‘And you know what? If you really want to make a difference in your business, London is the place to be’. The only concern he had, however, was to do with permitted development rights, which could ‘scupper a lot of what we are going to try and do for the future of Londoners’.

Graeme Craig of TfL said he was confident about the future and busy in bringing forward ‘high quality homes’ – 50,000 new homes across London – built on the transport network and particularly in high profile projects such as at Earls Court or Morden, where the ‘suburban centres of the future’ will allow people to live, work and enjoy themselves. ‘COVID 19 has changed the city, and personally I think that we can and will retain the best of the habits that we've picked up over the course of the last year and combine that with the best of what we've had in the past’.

Brent Cross Town
Finally, Nick Searl of Argent Related said work on projects such as at Tottenham Hale had carried on ‘pretty much as planned’, with the 10 million square foot Brent Cross Town particularly aiming at long-term changes it is seeing in living and working conditions. ‘I think COVID will have longer-lasting societal impacts’, said Searl, including new opportunities and amidst a ‘cautious optimism and view that London can actually really bounce back well from this’. ‘We need political will behind us’, he added. ‘We all need to keep our eyes focused on the big picture so that we can actually make the really big changes that are needed’.

The session included discussion of points raised by webinar viewers, including on the need for high streets to play a new role in recovery, for cultural venues to help drive tourist footfall, on the need for government support for financial services, orbital travel, for recognition that developers also need to make a profit, and everyone having a role to play. ‘There’s no such place as London’, said Rodwell. ‘There are just a lot of places that make up a place called London’.

WATCH THE WEBINAR RECORDING


David Taylor

Editor, NLQ and New London Weekly

Sadiq Khan

Mayor of London
Greater London Authority

Laura Citron

Laura Citron

CEO
London & Partners

Catherine McGuinness

Chair of the Policy and Resources Committee
City of London Corporation

Councillor Darren Rodwell

Leader of the Council
London Borough of Barking & Dagenham and Be First

Graeme Craig

Director of Commercial Development
Transport for London

Nick Searl

Managing Partner of Argent and Partner of Argent Related
Argent Related


London Boroughs

#NLALondonBoroughs

Programme Champion

London & Partners

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