New Place Commission created to shape London’s future

At its flagship Building London Summit today (Wednesday), business campaign group London First will announce the launch of a new Place Commission to produce a framework and recommendations to evolve London’s built environment as it recovers from the pandemic.

Underpinned by research and analysis by our partner Deloitte, the London First Place Commission will be chaired by the former Chief Executive of Landsec, Francis Salway. It will bring together leading businesses in the capital such as SEGRO, Grosvenor, the Crown Estate, Arup, Imperial College London and other prominent firms in the hospitality, legal and housing sectors, to answer the question ‘how should London’s built environment evolve to help people thrive and business to succeed?”.

London’s built environment – its buildings, places and supporting infrastructure – is the backbone of the capital and is vital to helping people thrive and supporting economic success. The pandemic has prompted some of the highest levels of change in the use of buildings since the de-industrialisation of the UK in the 1980s. How well these changes of use are managed will be critical to how attractive and productive the city becomes.

The pandemic has changed how we use the city, with many offices no longer at total capacity and the decrease in footfall having knock-on effects on retail and hospitality. London’s Central Activities Zone saw a higher drop in footfall than other UK and global cities, leading to a 60% decline in retail transactions in London’s CAZ between January and July 2020, while high streets in outer London saw less of an impact as customers shopped locally.

Without intervention and the creation of a new plan for London’s built environment, there is a risk of London falling behind its international counterparts.

John Dickie, Chief Executive at London First, said:

“London’s evolution as a place is vital to the city’s future economic success and its global competitiveness. Decisions made now will affect how we live, work and socialise in the capital for decades to come; so it is critical that we get them right. The business leaders on our Commission will look at new trends and old challenges to set a fresh vision and programme of action for London to make it a better place.”

Simon Burnett, Partner at Deloitte, said:

“As we look beyond the pandemic, it’s an important time to reflect on how the city has changed.

“The built environment has a key role to play in how London adapts, from enabling a more collaborative working style to facilitating changing transport habits of the city. Linked to this is the acceleration of ‘healthy buildings’ – bringing sustainability, green credentials and people’s wellbeing to the heart of building design. These key themes will impact how people and businesses use the city in future.”