Tuesday 4 May 2021 6:00 am

City Recovery Taskforce: innovation and creativity must be at the heart of Square Mile's restoration

William Russell is Lord Mayor of London.

As history shows, the City of London is nothing if not adaptable and this remarkable
ability to reinvent itself in response to economic and social trends lies at the heart
of its success. Throughout the centuries, the resilience of the Square Mile has meant
that, whatever adversity it is hit with – great fires, plagues or wars – it has always
managed to rebuild itself better.

The publication last week of an action plan by the City of London Corporation’s
Recovery Taskforce is the latest example of this ability to always look ahead. As our
economy starts to reopen from the COVID-19 pandemic, this Taskforce – led by the
City Corporation’s Policy Chair Catherine McGuinness and Planning and
Transportation Chair Alastair Moss – has set out a vision for ensuring the City is the
world’s most innovative, inclusive and sustainable centre by adapting to post-
pandemic economic and social trends.
The Taskforce, commissioned in November last year, has been listening to
businesses of all sizes in the City to find out how the pandemic has impacted their
ways of working and how and demands on urban centres have changed. 

At the heart of this plan, are a series of detailed actions to be taken in the next five
years which will enhance the City’s competitiveness and attractiveness, focusing on
three key dimensions of the Square Mile’s offer: its world class business ecosystem,
its vibrant cultural offer and outstanding environments. 

Firstly, we will foster an innovative ecosystem for businesses and talent, particularly
of high-potential tech-led businesses. We will advise and introduce smaller
businesses to City networks to help them establish and grow and will work with
technology sectors, not traditionally located in the Square Mile, to help them access
this ecosystem. We will also need to ensure that the City is a global testbed for data-
driven technologies, facilitating data-sharing that can be used by data-driven
businesses to test solutions.

Secondly, we need to ensure a vibrant offer that engages workers, visitors, learners
and residents and in turn allows the City’s cultural and creative industries to thrive.
This may include low-cost, long-term lets for creatives in empty and low-use spaces.

A bold programming of major events would also animate the Square Mile’s weekend
and night-time offer and may include traffic-free Saturdays or Sundays in the
summer, or an all-night cultural celebration to promote diversity and belonging.

Finally, we must deliver outstanding environments which support people and
businesses with sustainable buildings, high quality streets and public spaces. By
working with the property industry, we will enable and promote sustainable, flexible
and adaptable buildings and explore new ways to use vacant space.  

The Recovery Taskforce’s report represents the latest chapter in a story of more
than eight hundred years of innovation and evolution. We are convinced that it will
offer even better opportunities for work and recreation.

There will be changes but there will also be continuity. The City of London has been
a world leading ecosystem for centuries, through thick and through thin. It will remain
a welcoming place for businesses, workers, visitors and residents.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.