The Impact of the Pandemic on the Capital's People and Spaces
The second meeting of our Place Commission took place this week — our first as BusinessLDN – if you didn’t already know, we have rebranded, you can read more about our name change here.
On the agenda, the Commissioners discussed the impact of the pandemic on the capital’s people and spaces.
We kicked off with a scene setter from Hayley Parkinson-Roberts, Assistant Director from our research partner Deloitte. Hayley highlighted how London’s population is set to grow rapidly from around 9m today to around 10.5m by 2050, its ethnic diversity (with around 40% of the population identifying as not UK born) and its relatively youthful population (11% of people living in Inner London are aged between 30 and 34, compared to 6.3% in the UK). Noting that the needs of this growing population are changing, Hayley highlighted several emerging trends accelerated by hybrid working, including the shift in footfall and spending to outer London boroughs where residents are increasingly choosing to stay local; the growth of social activities over shopping heralding more experiential and interactive offerings on the high street; and the role of technology.
Neera Ridler-Mayor, Director at Deloitte, highlighted how Covid had shown many firms they could work without access to the usual workplace but hybrid working had changed the nature of work and how it is defined and delivered, how firms think about their workforce – from employees to contractors and freelancers – and the workplace, with a focus on how and where staff work best.
Michael Leyland, Manager at Deloitte shared some fascinating spending data from their partnership with Visa to chart how different parts of the capital have fared through Covid and recovery.
Looking at how the built environment should respond to the changes, the Commissioners discussed the role of online shopping versus bricks and mortar in central London, confirming the trend to experiential, and the importance of hospitality and culture to attract workers and visitors, while noting that the central activities zone remains attractive to investors, particularly when it comes to Grade A office space.
The Commissioners also highlighted the critical role of public transport in making it easier to get around the capital as opposed to in and out and the need for more affordable and diverse forms of housing to avoid exacerbating inequality.
The need for collaboration across local, central government, Business Improvement Districts, the private sector and with local communities was also noted, as was the need for a plan-led approach to delivering changes needed.
About the Place Commission
As we begin to understand the lasting impact that the pandemic will have on how people live, work, enjoy and visit the city, the BusinessLDN Place Commission will reflect on the role and function of London’s built environment and set a fresh vision and agenda for it.
Underpinned by research and analysis by Deloitte and Chaired by the former Chief Executive of Landsec, Francis Salway, and comprised of senior business leaders from across the capital, the BusinessLDN Place Commission will answer the question: ‘how should London’s built environment evolve to help people thrive and business to succeed?’