Arch republicans aside, few Londoners could have failed to have been touched by, or at least impressed with, the celebrations accorded to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. They showed a city that can put on a good show, unencumbered by complex logistics in one of the busiest corners of Europe.
And they showed that the historic backdrop of some of the world’s best heritage landmarks, both ancient and modern, can display London plc to its best effect on TV screens worldwide. All of this augers well for the Olympics, adding to our great summer fixtures such as Wimbledon, Test matches, even the London Festival of Architecture, and so on. The list of pride-inducing world-class events is a long one. And yet, in the background, key issues relating to the capital’s legacy remain unresolved. The housing problem facing London has turned into a crisis, encapsulated well by our new Londoner this quarter, Steve Howlett of Peabody. The institution he fronts celebrated 150 years with a competition and exhibition held at the NLA, but Howlett is concerned that the problems George Peabody highlighted in the nineteenth century are nowhere near being resolved. Transport, and particularly aviation, is another splinter in London’s crystal ball, with the New London Sounding Board among many others calling for a solution to capacity issues. Re-elected mayor Boris Johnson is continuing his campaign to revitalise some of London’s town centres through regeneration money, but the Portas Pilots have shown that new thinking is required for many former retail-led high streets. Happily, Croydon is one centre where post-riots money, a patchwork of masterplans and a tussle for retail expansion may trigger into life a long-stalled vision for the town’s rebirth. We profile Croydon chief executive Jon Rouse and his vision for the place in this issue, while Design for London chief Mark Brearley outlines where some of the investment into high streets is going. Elsewhere there is coverage of all of NLA’s sector briefing sessions, the blockbuster Developing City exhibition, think tanks and breakfast talks including an extended treatise on planning; opinion pieces on radical ideas and a better scenario for housing the aged, a look at the so-called Tech City; and a building review feature on Squire and Partners’ artful 5 Hanover Square. London can show it can do the logistics for all those one-off big ticket events. Now it needs to put some more legacy in place to provide more causes for wider-reaching celebration.
Enjoy the issue.
David Taylor, Editor