NLA City of London Development Conference

Monday 14 November 2011

London needs to sort out its aviation issues and ease the regulatory burden on companies if The City’s predominance in world rankings is to be maintained. But it must also capitalise on the quality of the Square Mile as a place, with refurbishments likely to hold the key for the next phase of development.

Those were some of the key points made in the latest On Location event held on 9 November by the NLA on the subject of The City, at the Guildhall.   

· London needs investment in crucial infrastructure and airport provision if it is to avoid losing ground on other cities, warned the Corporation of London’s Stuart Fraser. ‘We need it now – in 25 years’ time is too late’, he said. ‘We will lose business because of that’. 

· London is still attractive; a safe haven for overseas money – Brookfield’s Martin Jepson. ‘The fundamentals of the market are actually pretty good’ – limited supply and potential demand coming through. 

· There are, however, very few big pre-let opportunities 

· 60% of take-up in London is triggered by lease events 

· If all pipeline projects in the next four years are built out it will represent some £12-13 billion of construction jobs – EC Harris’ Roger Taylor 

· Projects in the City represent 65% of the London pipeline 

· London is an expensive city in which to locate a business because of myriad regulatory reasons, said Fraser. 

· The proposed relaxation of planning laws to allow more conversions of offices to residential will ‘sterilise’ the City, said Fraser. 

· City planning officer Peter Rees said that the City has advantages over other locations for businesses such as Frankfurt (‘the place sucks’) and the ‘hellhole’ of Dubai in terms of the quality of space London can offer, especially between buildings. These include the narrow streets and alleyways where people stop to gossip, exchange information and capitalise on it once back in their offices in terms of deals. 

· Refurbishment is the new building typology for the City – Rees 

· It is time to concentrate on a better environmental model for new buildings which does not use as much glass, said MAKE architect Ken Shuttleworth. The age of the ‘bling’ building and glass box was over, he said, and it is time to create buildings with more solid elements to cut down on solar gain. ‘The love affair – the orgy – we have had with glass buildings is over. We are campaigning for the death of the glass box’   

Selected quotations:

‘There is only one reason to build tall and that is through a lack of space’ – Peter Rees. 

‘If we don’t change now, we’re going to have a problem down the line’ Ken Shuttleworth 

‘In the last 25 years two big things have happened to the City – Big Bang and me. I’ve been trying to make the City a better place than the bankers would have.’ Peter Rees.

By David Taylor, Editor, New London Quarterly

The event was in association with the City of London, and sponsored by Berwin Leighton Paisner and EC Harris

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