Consultants from our Construction & Property Finance team, Hamish Harmer and Hannah Harward attended a Quarterly Breakfast Club hosted by London Chamber of Commerce and Industry. This included a key note address from Christopher Hayward, Chairman of the Planning and Transportation Committee for the City of London Corporation. They derived some key insights from the event:
There is ambition to create better spaces within the city, with plans to grow and improve transport and servicing. The market remains strong and sustained growth is predicted. Christopher Hayward has seen continued interest in investment and development within the city. This is mainly from overseas investors, predominantly from the Far East, looking for long term opportunities within the Square Mile.
The climate has also changed for workers. More agile working could result in a shift towards more homebased roles, unless the city adapts and creates better amenities, such as leisure spaces and improvements for the increasing air pollution problem.
Offices continue to transform, with demands for space to be used more flexibly for SME’s, and start-ups. Furthermore, business requirements mean that workers in the city are increasingly adopting a 24/7 lifestyle. This has resulted in improvements to travel networks to accommodate later commuting, especially with the commencement of the night tube and High-Speed Rail links. A consequence of improved public transport is a reduction in the number of cars, meaning there is less pollution. People are also choosing to walk where they can, leading to a focus on pavement space and ensuring better safety for pedestrians.
The visual landscape is expected to change quite dramatically with plans to develop upwards, growing The Eastern City Cluster. However, importance is also placed on keeping cultural heritage sites and the Cultural Mile. This will include the relocation of the Museum of London to West Smithfield, and the proposed Centre for Music alongside the existing Barbican Centre.
In summary, despite continued economic concerns regarding Brexit, Christopher presented an optimistic forecast of the future of the City of London:
“With 1.37 million m² of office space under construction, which has the potential to accommodate 85,000 future workers, and a 25-year Transport Strategy also underway, this is a once in a generation opportunity to drive cutting-edge and sustainable economic, environmental and cultural change in the heart of London.”
His final quote particularly resonated with us, concluding ‘if we don’t stop moving forward, we will fall behind’.
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