Trends since we started Where to Go Big question:
With demand for extra office space, new homes and the advent of new infrastructure such as Crossrail, we take a look at how London is changing to meet these needs and specifically how EC1 and WC1 has become the best connected postcodes, in terms of quality of life. What are the good parts and the inevitable downsides of living in a sprawling metropolis like London?
With London soon set to become a megacity, what challenges lie ahead for residents and businesses? As someone whose speciality is building bridges between people, he was the perfect moderator for a debate that held contrasting and contentious views.
The discussion started with panellists thinking about changes they have observed in London and what this might mean for the future.
James McCluredirector of Airbnb Europe, used his business stats to provide some initial insight. London, he posited, is no longer internationally famous simply for its Royal Family and historic value, although these are still powerful drivers.
James felt that return visitors from outside the UK were increasingly interested in staying in, and discovering, outer boroughs such as Walthamstow, where the William Morris museum is both a source of local pride and an alternative destination within London.
Martyn SaundersDirector at GVA and specialist in urban regeneration, pointed out an interesting tension between the regeneration of outer boroughs, which are less well served by public transport, and independence from vehicles within London.
The risk, he said, was the further out in London you lived, the more car-dependent you became. However, as he later pointed out, ambitious infrastructure can completely transform a derelict neighbourhood. In response to the housing crisis, Martyn said: All of this comes back to unlocking the potential of land.
But places like Thamesmead are still completely inaccessible to mass public transport. One big trend Martyn considers to be a challenge for the future is how developers have been flipping employment land into housing. An understandable response to the housing shortage, he said it is clearly unsustainable for London in terms of having jobs and workspaces.
He believes the future needs to be about having a diverse range of things happening in one particular development, be that studio, retail or industrial space existing alongside flats. He felt that the challenge to affordable housing within London was a lack of land available for development, full stop.
To politicians, he said: For example, she pointed out that London has plenty of cheap or free employment and vocational training — she herself found a broadcast course that kickstarted her career.
She also thinks that London is unique in how it caters to every niche: The challenge, as she sees it, for the future, is that millennials are struggling to afford the property market. For that reason, she said, many of the young people she knows are finding places outside London an enticing proposition.
One of the most memorable contributions came from a man who commented: London was borne out of multiculturalism.
The discussion concluded with many questions about the future unanswered, but also thoughts on the past — whatever is in store for us Londoners, this global capital has always been and certainly will continue to be, a landscape of opportunity, innovation, and continual reinvention for individuals and businesses alike.+ event trends transforming the industry.
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Where to Go. Big question: where to go, what to see, where to start. Maybe we can have you ask a few questions of yourself and point you towards some places you may not have considered.