EVENT REVIEW: Future City Summit – 23rd October 2014

London is not at crisis point, it just has growing pains. It is an exciting time to be a planner in London with so many challenges to address in the years ahead. These were the conclusion of the Annual RTPI London Planning Summit that took place on 23rd October in the futuristic surroundings of the Siemens Crystal at the Royal Docks.

This year’s summit, the culmination of RTPI London’s Centenary Series which looked ahead to the coming decades to discuss and debate the issues facing the Capital’s Planners. Some 150 delegates heard from a diverse range of speakers including Rt. Hon Dame Tessa Jowell MP, Michele Dix of TfL, John Lett of the GLA, Guerilla Geographer Daniel Raven Ellison, Richard Brown of Centre for London and Professor Michael Batty of UCL. Peter Murray of the London Society chaired the Great Green Belt debate, and delegates took part in an array of interactive workhops.

Session 1: Future Challenges and Opportunities

Tom Venables, chair of RTPI London set the context for the event, looking back at the Centenary Series events that have been underway since January which looked and issues and debated the challenges faced by professional planners in the past and present.

Venables noted that 100 years ago, the newly formed Town Planning Institute in London were facing similar issues to those being addressed today such as how to address housing demand, regeneration of slum areas, green infrastructure, the growing need for infrastructure to support a rapidly expanding population. Considerable debate took place in the 1920’s and 1930s amongst members of the RTPI and the London Society around how to control sprawl resulting in the green belt that we know today, crystallised in Abercrombie’s 1944 Greater London Plan. This set a blue print for the south east region and has shaped the transport network, new towns and green belt. Since then, the capital has seen a number of different plans and large regeneration projects including the Docklands and the Olympic Park.

Venables identified that London in 2014 is on top of its game, people want to visit and live in London, but the question is have we reached our tipping point? The level of growth anticipated over the next 30 years impacts the affordability, the population is spilling beyond London to areas around; millions commute in each day from the boundaries of London. In London there is the Strategic Housing and Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) which identifies London’s housing capacity, an essential component which feeds into the London and local plans. Outside London, there is no such coordination – research by AECOM has indicated that a deficit of some 1 million homes exists in the wider London region between what is required and what is currently planned for. These are big issues and a significant amount of infrastructure is required.

Richard Brown at Centre for London suggested that London currently has growing pains.

There is an expected increase of 2 million people over the next 25 years. Housing construction has fallen as the population has risen. Council house building has virtually stopped and this has stirred chronic affordability issues. East London is to accommodate 40% of growth and a million jobs. The growth in job sectors are not financial, but in real estate, science and technology sectors.

Brown noted that People earning between £23,000 and £43,000 per annum are stuck, they are not the squeezed middle but have become a chronic London condition and therefore have no resilience to economic change more on this is set out in a research report called ‘The Hollow Promise’. CBI has said the biggest problem facing competitiveness in London is housing. There has been an increase in commuting in London. If you are not going to increase the transport capacity in London you risk a revolt. The question is how do we redirect London’s affluence to London’s success?

Currently we have a system that encourages land as an asset and owners to speculate. The house building industry is driven by the short term build to sell interest. The urgent issue is infrastructure and we will continue to make the case for investment in the capital.

Brown concluded that the role of planning is essential to create a positive city we all live in.

For further information on the Hollow Promise: http://centreforlondon.org/publication/hollow-promise/

Michael Batty of the Centre for Advance Spatial Analysis at UCL discussed how the use of data and technology can assist planners in planning for a “smart” London.

Big data will not solve the problem of inequality but helps us understand cities. New technologies help citizens become smarter. An example of data is for example from Oyster cards to analyse patterns of travel throughout the week to assess whether the tube can manage the additional population.

“Smart cities” is about thinking of the city as adaptive and how new technologies can help change cities through notions of new networks, and modes of communication. Technology brings alive information in different ways. For example 3D models showing levels of nitrogen on roads in London, the supply of public transport against the demand.

By the end of the century, we will all be living in cities of some form or another and the data can help us understand the scale of the issue to make more informed decisions and choices, London is a great laboratory for change.

Daniel Raven Ellison is a Guerrilla Geographer and campaigner for the London National Park.

Daniel introduced himself and explained he had been on 125 adventures across the UK and to all 15 of the UKs national parks. 7% of the UK is urban and 10% of England, why is this not represented in the national parks? The habitat in London is ecologically diverse. London is special and different in that it is the largest urban forest and yet there are few children making use of the green spaces in London. Data showed parents feel parks are too far away or too expensive for a young person to use. What is the impact to businesses of a population that do not access green space? What if London became a new national park city?

Raven Ellison identified that there are currently 50 canoe clubs in London and phenomenal opportunities for recreational activity in London. The landscape in London is distinctive and inspiring. A national park has to be beautiful and recreational. The wild and pristine places have their own values; London has the value set of a national park. There are exciting things to do to inspire young children. The garden bridge is a beautiful and iconic; the garden bridge could be the symbol of a national park with a purpose to inspire people to visit places outside of London. Not to plan for this but to coordinate best practice.

Further information on the London National Park can be found here: http://www.greaterlondonnationalpark.org.uk/

Session 2 – Interactive Workshops

Delegates had a choice of three workshops to debate different themes around the future city.

Workshop 1. Cities Alive: delivering multiple benefits from green infrastructure

This workshop, hosted by Arup featured presentations from Corinne Swain and Hannah Wright.

Presentation:

  • The multiple functions of green infrastructure can benefit Authorities; City Dwellers; Developers; Landowners; Businesses; Retailers and Tourists.
  • It is important to set it within a policy framework to look at linkages between open spaces- including cross boundary.
  • Victoria Business District is carrying out green infrastructure interventions based on an audit of green assets.
  • The New York City Parks Department use the iTree assessment to determine that 600,000 streets trees in its five boroughs provide an annual benefit of $122m – more than five times the cost of maintaining them.
  • Ways of delivery in a time of austerity:
    • Have a strategy (a framework)
    • Making existing infrastructure work harder (improvement)
    • Making more productive use of vacant land

Discussion

  • Developers are beginning to realise that green infrastructure can add value to schemes in terms of property prices and footfall to commercial units and it is being given a higher priority in some schemes e.g. Earls Court.
  • Some schemes are proposing innovative ways of incorporating green infrastructure, for example in Nine Elms allotments are being proposed on building roofs.
  • Other ways of greening include green walls; go beyond traditional concepts to consider vertical spaces, etc
  • Low maintenance for green space should be designed into schemes from the beginning.
  • If space is not adopted by the Council then who pays for maintenance and upkeep? The benefits of good maintenance include natural surveillance to improve safety and a sense of belonging. This can be met through service charges or mobilising the local community through crowd funding or local interventions.
  • Having a strategic framework (vision) for green space and green & grey infrastructure in place can help make negotiating easier, and can help ensure you get the types of provision you want. Using GIS to monitor can make this flexible over time, and ensure projects are spaced out and sequenced appropriately
  • The appropriate balance must be made between size and quality. Pocket Parks can represent good value for money, and may be more accessible for some people.
  • Small and large interventions should be linked together in an overarching framework.
  • At the moment public health representatives are not usually involved with discussions with developers.
  • Public health savings could be used to contribute to further green infrastructure interventions. The incorporation of public health functions into Local Authorities is an opportunity for this and could help to break down silos.
  • The education of elected Members on green infrastructure is an important part of the process. In particular Portfolio holders can have a big influence on the outcomes.
  • It is difficult to translate the green infrastructure into smaller developments- how is quality maintained on smaller sites? The larger examples of good green infrastructure planning are the exceptions not the norm and there is a need to make connections between spaces and the wider green infrastructure network.
  • Local scale planning could help with this e.g. Neighbourhood Plans or Area Partnerships. Mobilizing the community involvement on, e.g., how underused spaces may be better used.
  • Home Performance Labelling is an initiative which looks at the wider value of a house including daylight. This could be extended to include access to green space.
  • Involving utilities companies can be an important part of the process. The proposed changes to the Sustainable Drainage System regime which have been recently subject to consultation present an opportunity to use green infrastructure to improve drainage on more schemes.

Workshop 2. Future Proofing London: Infrastructure for a Vibrant City

This workshop, facilitated by Martin Tedder and Paul White of Atkins This workshop looked at the challenge of providing the infrastructure for London’s forecast growth. While London excels in many areas, the quality of its infrastructure is a longstanding weak spot. With its population soon to breach the all-time high of 8.6 million (set in 1939), this needs to be addressed, particularly in the two most costly areas; housing and transport.

London’s Central Area Zone (CAZ) displays a huge amount of agglomeration, with density and connectivity driving productivity and creating wealth. The capital’s transport system makes agglomeration possible, in particular air and rail. Multi-polar employment patterns will not deliver similar benefits – central London growth is key. There is potential for opportunity to area to accommodate a proportion of London’s population growth, but not all of it. How do we plan for infrastructure to reflect this?

There are three basic scenarios:

  • A bigger role for town centres: This would see a move away from a retail emphasis in favour of more space for residential, business and civic functions. This requires improvement of existing public transport networks. By providing new uses for existing buildings it has the potential to help conserve heritage and deliver an improved sense of community. It also avoids displacing existing employment.
  • A denser outer London: Catchily-monikered “Superbia” this would see outer London becoming more like inner London, with greater concentration of land uses and development. This could be a good model for struggling outer London urban areas. It would require careful design to ensure that densification delivered a genuine improvement to the quality of the urban environment, as well as public transport reflective of inner London’s connectivity and capacity.
  • Growth outside London: Based upon the development of high-speed, high-capacity railway lines, the potential for long-distance commuting (as is common in Japanese cities) would rely on development taking place beyond the green belt. This scenario has potential in areas which are in relatively close proximity to London but which lack good rail connections.

The workshop discussed these three scenarios in relation to one another and wider considerations. Development of town centres for new uses (particularly residential) would provide a new use for retail office space that is increasingly being rejected in favour of central London locations; however the fear is that this could exacerbate already weak retail centres by encouraging further out-of-town development. While the optimum density of suburbia may be higher than current levels, achieving an increase may not be politically practicable. There is little in the way of market incentives to bring about a rebirth of suburbia on their own. The long-distance commuting model has the potential to contribute to London’s accessibility; however this depends upon frequent, attractive and reliable public transport – this is essential for creating a liveable city. It is vital to think about the type of city that one wants and provide the infrastructure for it.

Workshop 3: Growing the City: Up or Out

This workshop was led by Jonathan Manns of Colliers and Tom Venables of AECOM explored potential solutions for accommodating the growth London (and its surrounding region).

Opportunities for growth discussed included:

  • The Thames Gateway;
  • Growth associated with airport expansion;
  • Higher densities;
  • Transport nodes/corridors (considering travel to work patterns) and agglomerations.

There was much discussion as to whether the growth needed could be within London’s boundaries or whether growth needed to go beyond London, such as in a polycentric model or a new generation of new towns.

Key issues raised regarding ‘how’ we should direct future growth largely revolved around ‘governance’ issues. Some called for more regional/metropolitan planning, and even for more ‘top down’ planning. Issues around funding transport, devolution and capturing the uplift in development value arising from planning consent was also discussed – with some reference back to the Community Land Act. Delegates raised a number of other issues, including encouraging local food growth, ensuring that local distinctiveness is not lost and remembering to provide middle-market housing.

Session3: The Great Green Belt Debate

This event was Chaired by Peter Murray NLA + The London Society and featured Jonathan Manns, Colliers International; Shaun Spiers, Chief Executive, Campaign to Protect Rural England, Ben Derbyshire, HTA Design John Dickie, Head of Policy, London First

Jon Manns, Associate Director at Colliers opened the debate by setting out the history of the green belt. It was first envisaged by Lord Meath as a narrow, parkway-like strip of land encircling London. This was subsequently developed by Abercrombie in 1944 into a six mile wide green boundary to provide amenity space and farmland. It currently encompasses 500,000 Ha and includes Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), as well as parts of the South Downs National Park. Jon argues that the green belt is too restrictive and that a more flexible approach should be taken. This need not, he emphasised; result in the countryside being concreted over.

John Dickie from London First provided input to the debate from a perspective of business competitiveness. Fully three quarters of London’s businesses are worried about house prices and availability and it is impossible to deliver the volume and pace of demand in current plans. In the context of a forecast population ride from 8.5m to 10m by 2030, this requires action. Development should be coordinated with transport planning, particularly rail. John produced a map showing numerous green belt railway stations with potential for development within ten minutes walk. He also proposed a notional ‘Chessington New Town’ and questioned the logic of a planning instrument that results in a horse living 35 minutes by rail from Baker Street.

Shaun Spiers from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) took to the floor to explain how the stubbornness of green belt policy has saved the south east from sprawl. While it is possible to conjecture that the chief resulting benefit is one of amenity value, this misses the point. The most important reason in favour of the green belt is that it focuses investment in cities. By limiting development outside urban areas, cities become less susceptible to hollowing-out through peripheral development. Shaun also highlighted the extreme lopsidedness of Britain’s urban economy. While Germany has five great cities, we only have one. London is overheated and there is a real need to develop other major cities.

The final speaker was Ben Derbyshire, of HTA Design, wearing a pink blazer for Wear it Pink day. Ben’s talk focuses on intensification of suburban London, much of which is built to a very low density on 8m x 40m plots. By doubling the density of 10% of London’s housing stock, 20,800 homes could be provided per year. This would require a combination of policy and fiscal initiatives.

In the ensuing discussion, Economic imbalance gained further attention when it was pointed out the Bristol is the only UK city outside London to have a higher-than-median income. Shaun Spiers maintained that house builders will not increase their output; their business model depends upon limiting supply to maintain prices. It is more than a question of numbers; a fear of low-quality development prompts a new NIMBY-ism based on quality and standards, or lack thereof. John Dickie agreed with this, stating in the context of planning and development that he is “against crap”. Ben Derbyshire concurred with this. Mass house builders have created a massive own-goal for themselves by over-producing poor quality development for 40 years. People dislike them as a result. An audience member from CBRE pointed out that this debate is not about housing, it is about urbanity; houses, schools, jobs and so on. Jon and Shaun concurred with this. The desire to avoid unattractive sprawl was shared among all participants; however laissez-faire approaches have in the past delivered this. Joined-up planning is essential.

Social sustainability was raised by the University of Westminster’s Duncan Bowie, who pointed out that we are not (currently) getting medium density high quality brownfield development and the CPRE approach will have negative social outcomes. Shaun countered that the CPRE does believe in proper planning, citing a recent residential development in the Dartmoor National Park. What is not satisfactory is the current system of land-hungry developers paying expensive lobbyists to chip away at the green belt, a system that is both adversarial and useless. He also highlighted the CPRE’s #wasteofspace Twitter campaign to highlight brownfield sites.

RTPI President Cath Ranson pointed to shifts in demographic trends and preferences. Millennials are increasing rejecting their parents’ dream of a double garage in suburbia, preferring to live in urban places with lots to see and do. This may offset the many political difficulties associated with urban densification. Future development of London will need to take account of this. Well thought out planning is key. To this end, Jon challenged the CPRE to define why the green belt is important, when many people do not know where it is.

Session 4 provided delegates with the choice of a further three workshop sessions:

  1. Housing – top down or bottom up approach?

This session, hosted by URS, looked at top down and bottom up approaches to housing delivery and sought to engage the audience in whether it is possible to change the current paradigm. It was chaired by Stuart Woodin, Director of Neighbourhood Planning and URS, and featured Professor Michael Flood Haddenham Neighbourhood Forum and Nick Taylor of the GLA.

Stuart Woodin noted that the experience of neighbourhood planning to date has been a positive one – there are a growing number of neighbourhood forums and plans coming forward across London, particularly in Westminster City Council and London Borough of Camden. As part of the neighbourhood planning process, forums have identified that there is a housing need and are instrumental in bringing forward smaller sites. Collectively Neighbourhood Plans can deliver a significant number of homes. However, neighbourhood forums struggle with strategic sites.

Neighbourhood planning has therefore been both positive and negative. It is positive in that there has been an increase in engagement with the community on thinking about the future of their local area. It has also been positive in that they haven’t been hostile towards housing developers through the realisation that there is a genuine need for additional housing providing infrastructure needs of the local area are also addressed.

There are some negatives to the neighbourhood planning process. It is resource heavy in that it requires a lot of time and expertise in generating neighbourhood plans. The process also builds up a great expectation, the fear is if these expectations are not met then there may be further disengagement with the planning system in general.

URS noted the following case studies:

  • Haddenham Neighbourhood Plan – where URS produced a site assessment pro forma and guide for to assess each potential development site around the village to ensure consistency.
  • Ferring Parish Council submitted three Community Right to Build Orders. Two of the CRTBOs proposed the construction of housing aimed at elderly residents looking to remain within the village but seeking smaller homes. The third contained proposals for the demolition of the existing Glebelands community centre and its replacement with a larger, two-storey community centre.
  • Cockermouth Town Centre in Cumbria has a Neighbourhood Development Order. This includes allowing flats above commercial facilities and replacement shop fronts.
  • An example of failed community right to build order exists at St Martin Close and Coos Lane, Handcross within Slaugham Parish Council. This was due to the uncertainty about the effects of the development and whether it can be satisfactorily delivered and the lack of an Environment Impact Assessment.

Nick Taylor swiftly talked through the work the GLA has currently been doing to establish housing zones which provide focus and certainty. This has also established long term relationships with local authorities to accelerate housing delivery in the capital.

The GLA has also been working on Community Right to Build Orders, Neighbourhood Development Orders and custom build housing. The aim of these project aims to give power to communities to build their own projects for the benefit of the community. There has been a low uptake of this in London. Again, this may be because a lot of these projects require time and effort to get them off the ground. The GLA is also encouraging custom build in London e.g. Royal Victoria Docks.

Professor Michael Flood Haddenham Neighbourhood Forum gave an overview of his experience in Neighbourhood Planning. A number of positive experiences have emerged including the greater community engagement and participation in the Parish Council. However, it has involved a large amount of work and there is a high level of expectation of what neighbourhood planning can achieve which has to be managed.

The workshop debate covered a range of issues, including:

  • Acknowledgement that Neighbourhood Planning is resource intensive- both for Local Planning Authorities who are providing support and the residents involved in the forums. Therefore, managing expectations is very important from the beginning, including training and professional input.
  • It can be difficult to align neighbourhood plans when the Local Planning Authority does not have an up to date Local Plan.
  • There has been an uneven distribution of the take up of Neighbourhood Planning across London, for example there are many more in Camden and Westminster compared with Newham. Resources should be made available to help poorer communities to progress Neighbourhood Plans.
  • Neighbourhood Plans must be kept up to date to be effective- communities must keep up with changes.
  • There has been opposition to the Thame neighbourhood plan after it has been adopted despite the referendum.
  • There must be links between different ways of encouraging housing growth, for example between housing zones and neighbourhood planning. A review of the funding regimes could assist with this.

Workshop 5: Connected City

This workshop was hosted by Andrew Dorrian and Ian Birch of TfL and solicitated feedback on the London Infrastructure Plan.

Workshop 6: Planning across boundaries – is there a governance gap?

This workshop was facilitated by Rob Kryszowski, Planning Policy Team Leader at RB Kensington and Chelsea and featured insight from Nicky Gavron, Chair, London Assembly Planning Committee; Joseph Kilroy, Royal Town Planning Institute; Duncan Bowie, University of Westminster and John McGill, London Stansted Cambridge Consortium

The future well-being of communities and the creation of more and better jobs in a competitive economy and is being put at risk by the failure to integrate the provision of housing and necessary infrastructure and services across local authority boundaries according to the RTPI’s Strategic Planning: Beyond Co-operation paper. This is certainly the case in London where over 1 million people per day commute across the Greater London boundaries, yet strategic planning does not reflect this functional economic area. In addition population projections for the next 20 years indicate that population growth will need to be accommodated beyond London’s metropolitan boundaries. The workshop focused on these issues and consider how growth should be managed at a city-regional level. It considered whether the Duty to Co-operate is working, whether there is a Governance Gap and how this could be plugged.

Nicky Gavron set out the case for there to be a full cascade of spatial frameworks from the national level, to regional/city and borough levels – suggesting that all of these plans must be underpinned by subsidiarity and sustainable development. Nicky also highlighted how planning in London is missing the regional/metropolitan dimension – but this is an issue which every major city is grappling with. The current arrangements for the ‘duty to cooperate’ were described as ‘the least satisfactory’ and there seemed general agreement from the panel that the duty was far from perfect.

Joseph Kilroy introduced the RTPI’s emerging Strategic Planning: Beyond Co-operation paper. The paper sets out a number of principles for strategic planning: Dealing only with genuinely strategic planning issues; Fashioning policies locally; Ensuring accountability to local electorates; Ensuring strong links to spending programmes; and Linking to local business.

The current situation regarding strategic planning was described as ‘unacceptable’. Whilst the duty to cooperate is enforced, it is not a ‘positive activity’. Economic growth plans are not aligned and there are problems with infrastructure shortages and planning by appeal. The RTPI’s paper proposes voluntary groupings of local authorities (for example, see Manchester’s combined plan proposals) seeking agreement on housing numbers. Such work should be rewarded with government investment incentives and aligned with Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs)’ plans.

Duncan Bowie described how regional planning has been totally abolished outside of London and that, in the absence of that, the duty to cooperate is still unsatisfactory as there is no requirement to agree. Duncan described how LEPs, although now seen as a possible vehicle for planning across boundaries (e.g. Sir Michael Heseltine’s recommendations), they were not originally designed to do strategic planning. Duncan expressed concern over possible proposals for incentives on two grounds: there is unlikely to be much funding available from government in the future in light of continuing austerity; and past experience with development incentives, such as the New Homes Bonus, has not generated any significant commitment to house building.

John McGill set out how the LSCC came about, originally as an idea coming out of the government’s invitation for bids to set up Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). The 20 local authorities involved, spanning from the Royal Docks in Newham to Peterborough believe that they represent a functional economic area. The focus of the LSCC is largely about developing a narrative and vision rather than formal policy, and works on economic growth, infrastructure, inward investment and development issues around Stansted Airport. John set out how working together to improve rail links between London, Stansted and Cambridge could unlock around 170,000 homes and deliver associated economic growth.

Session 5 Planning Ahead – Further Alterations to the London Plan and TfL 2050 Infrastructure Plan

The penultimate plenary session, chaired by Dr Michael Harris of the RTPI heard from John Lett of the GLA and Michele Dix of TfL who are actively involved in current strategic planning for London.

John Lett set out current issues in the preparation of the Further Alterations to the London Plan, noting:

  • These are the last Alterations to be produced by the current Mayor – a full review of the London Plan is expected following the 2016 Mayoral election
  • Draft FALP came out in Jan 2014 – EiP took place in Sept – Inspector’s Draft Report expected by GLA in November – Mayor to produce guidance early 2015
  • FALP anticipates annual population rise 2011-31 of 51,000
  • Recession has seen a stall in out-migration from London, but continued in-migration
  • Latest estimates expect even higher annual population growth of 76,000
  • London demographic profile features younger working age population than rest of UK – also a growing group aged 75+ with concomitant housing pressures for affordable family-sized housing + specialised housing for the elderly (the number of over-90’s is expected to quadruple by 2050)
  • Overall development pattern in London still expected to be more oriented towards east London
  • Employment growth still expected to be focussed in central London – but continued loss of offices in CAZ is a concern for the future
  • Inner London will have varied picture with some growing areas and some declining
  • Outer London still to realise its full potential for housing and jobs growth + we are starting to see developing pockets of deprivation there (akin to some US cities)
  • Opportunity Areas and the Intensification Areas are expected to be the main focus for future new growth – new Opportunity Areas now designated at Harrow Road, Old Kent Road, Old Oak Common and Bromley – all are shown on the Key Diagram
  • Town Centre Network is still that developed in the 1990’s
  • Comparison goods floorspace not expected to rise as quickly as in the past
  • Need housing-led regeneration to prevent decline of the district centres and some major centres around London
  • Strategic Industrial Land (SIL) sites have seen an average annual loss above the FALP target of 37 ha pa for some time – hence the FALP sees a need for greater restraint on loss of SIL in future

Michelle Dix, who has played a lead role in the preparation of the London Infrastructure Plan to 2050, made the following remarks:

  •  London’s population expected to reach 10m by 2050
  • To maintain its competitive edge over other global cities London needs significant infrastructure investment across a range of sectors, including: housing, transport, energy, waste, water, schools, telecommunications and green space to meet that population’s needs
  • Notably with future airport growth, the Davies Commission is looking for a solution up to 2030 and is likely to support development of a further runway at Gatwick; the Infrastructure Plan covers a longer time frame up to 2050 and instead calls for development of a new, four-runway airport in east London as a better solution
  • Its global success is dependent to a major extent on future investment in London’s airports, a growing CAZ with improved rail links to it and a better road system
  • Pace of change in London’s population growth has already required a review of the Mayor’s existing transport strategy up to 2031 – the rising number of people than expected living and working here has resulted in higher travel demands – e.g. leading to a need for greater numbers of buses than previously forecast
  • Improved public transport systems will benefit Londoners’ health if less private car use results
  • Projects such as the Bakerloo Line Extension might revive housing market interest in previously lesser developed areas of south London

Panellists were joined by Nicky Gavron for the Q+A session, who set out the following thoughts on London’s Future Development from her perspective as chair of the GLA planning committee:

  • Supports London growing as a compact city + regeneration focussed around the existing town centre network + generally aiming to improve the quality of life here
  • She sees the Infrastructure Plan as important for helping the London Plan to secure a better future development trajectory for the city
  • Encouraging a “circular economy” via reuse and recycling of waste is vital to break away from continually having to increase incineration capacity in London
  • It is difficult to co-ordinate all the different institutions and agencies involved in delivering infrastructure investment to meet London’s needs – particularly where particular geographical regeneration is being attempted; too often the “investment tail” wags the “geographical dog” in her view

Session 4: Planning: The Solution

After hearing from a representative of each workshop session, the final plenary heard from key note speakers Cath Ranson President, Royal Town Planning Institute and Dame Tessa Jowell MP.

Cath Ranson, the RTPI’s President for 2014, used her presentation to delegates to highlight 100 years of professionalism and creating great places across the UK and beyond. Cath set out how planners and the Institute must reflect on lessons learnt over the last 100 years and look forward to future challenges and new skills. The Planning Horizons papers, published throughout the year by the RTPI are proving to be successful in influencing non-planners about planning’s important agenda. To meet the challenges of today, including in London, Cath called for more integrated spatial policy. The RTPI London Regional Committee and the Chair, Tom Venables, were thanked for putting on a range of centenary events throughout the year.

Dame Tessa Jowell paraphrased the Mayor of Bogota, Colombia, Enrique Penalosa in saying that “A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars; it’s where the rich use public transport” and suggested this same principle should apply to London. Tessa explained how planners should be assisted by new forms of democracy and engagement and recognise that “London is not a self-contained city state” and is “not on the edge of declaring independence” from the rest of the UK. Tessa called for coherence in places and a balance in facilities, alongside an “ever-increasing devolution from central government to London and within London”. It was noted that London retains only 7% of the income it generates, whereas in New York City the figure is 50%. The MP described how there should be a focus on “fairness” and “good growth” and ensure that London’s personality is maintained. The challenge of unlocking London’s brownfield land which has unimplemented planning permission was raised by Tessa.

The debate then continued into the evening over a drinks reception with our Centenary Partners.

RTPI London are sincerely grateful to our Centenary Partners – Atkins, Arup, Colliers International, AECOM, URS, KDH Associates, TfL and NLA – for their support throughout 2014.

To get involved with, or to sponsor, our events programme for 2015 please email London@rtpi.org.uk

If you have anything to add to this article please let us know.

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