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Forging ahead: London's future

London's status as a leading global capital - financially, socially and culturally - has been the subject of much debate in the wake of the worst recession on record. A modern, commercially effective and sustainable built environment is paramount to the successful development of 21st century London as the city rises to the challenges of economic recovery and growth, climate change or realizing the 'Big Society' vision.

On Wednesday the newly formed and exclusive construction and property forum Forge hosted a debate on this issue, looking at the key forces that will shape London and the world over the coming years.

The debate was chaired by the Rt. Hon. Michael Portillo and featured guest panellists Liz Peace, Chief Executive of the British Property Federation; Tony Travers, Director at LSE London; Bradley Baker, Head of Central London Tenant Representation at Knight Frank and Helen Garthwaite, Partner and Head of Construction & Engineering at law firm Taylor Wessing.

Among the issues addressed by the panel were:

London as global financial centre: the future is bright?

Tony Travers of LSE London said: "London's prominence as one of the two top global capitals is threatened by cities in other continents that are developing and building new infrastructure. Investment, competitive taxes and public services will all be key elements in determining London's future. On balance the future is bright but there are a number of key challenges, including such issues as immigration and airport capacity. The city and its government need to keep on their toes."

The skyscraper boom: compromising London's heritage or building the city of the future?

Bradley Baker of Knight Frank said: "London has always evolved and needs to continue to do so if it is to remain and fulfil its role as the world's number one Global City. It's clear that it is facing increasing competition from other Cities and cannot afford to be complacent. The fact is that occupiers like tall buildings and always have done so. This is clearly illustrated by the higher rents that they are prepared to pay to be in them. The new breed of tall buildings in London will have a positive impact on their surroundings assisting in urban regeneration - their increasingly mixed use format only adding to their global appeal. They are also 'green' in nature by virtue of their development density minimising urban sprawl and focusing on transport hubs."

The New Age of economic efficiency will drive change and collaboration

Helen Garthwaite of Taylor Wessing stated: "Joint ventures can help manage risk by maintaining involvement of the wider market and leveraging development opportunities. We are likely to see new procurement and funding structures coming to the market influenced by this and the need for lower carbon development and refurbishment. Sustainable development has the power to unite different parties across the property industry. We believe that more collaborative relationships will form as diverse stakeholders come together to navigate tough economic times and build a more sustainable London."

The role of infrastructure in a global capital and what can be done to improve London's systems

Liz Peace, Chief Executive of the BPF said: "London's infrastructure is absolutely vital to its continuing success as a world city. But keeping up with population and visitor growth means we need continual investment and that's expensive. Expecting the private sector to cough up cash will only contribute so much - we need a strong commitment to public sector funding with no option for wriggling out of such commitments".

The 'Forging Ahead: London's Future' debate was supported by the London Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the International Building Press.

www.forgelondon.org

18th February 2011




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