As our City of Tomorrow campaign concludes, we are taking a look at London as a megacity in the future. Using research available, we have asked experts from across our business to reflect on London as the population hits 10 million, the demographic shift accompanying this, and the practical steps that need to be taken now to deliver sustainable growth. In our next article, Associate Tom Cole discusses the role of town centres have to play in megacities and some considerations for London going forward.
THE ROLE OF TOWN CENTRES IN AN EMERGING MEGACITY
As London heads towards a population of 10 million, one fundamental question is where this growth will be accommodated and how far town centres can accommodate this changing population.
The potential for the capital to grow outwards is already limited – while it has been much-discussed, there is no strategic London-wide appetite for Green Belt release, so existing centres and areas of opportunity within the capital need to be the focus for change.
This makes the competing requirements for land use within town centres even more significant, with the need to weigh housing delivery against wider objectives for centres like the future of retailing, broadening the role of town centres and regeneration initiatives.
The stakes are high, which requires a rethink about attitudes to development on all sides of the conversation.
At the same time, these decisions will need to take account of changes to population segmentation where our research shows a significant growth in both ‘early working years’ and later living, each having very different needs for housing and what makes town centre living attractive in terms of services and the living environment.
The way forward here must be through establishing clear objectives in developments, crucial to which is:
- Developers are putting forward authentic developments – it is essential that plans are grounded in an understanding of place and certainly must be locally distinctive.
- Councils are buying into the opportunities presented by town centres, with a huge role to play as landowners too.
- Greater acceptance by local communities of good development to meet the significant challenges we face – change can be and is a positive thing!
The direct outcome of progress in these areas would be everyone reaping the benefits of accommodating housing growth in town centres and having a stake in this, whether this is a role in reversing the fortunes of a town centre or simply providing a better place for communities to live and be proud of.