Our once-in-a-generation opportunity to ensure that the City is fit for the future
Firms across the Square Mile have had to spend a disproportionate amount of time recently planning for the short term.
With less than five months to go before the UK leaves the European Union, it is right that businesses urgently prepare for all possible outcomes, including a possible no-deal scenario. There are many pressing issues that could affect City firms after March 2019.
But even though Brexit is dominating the immediate horizon, it is vital that the Square Mile also takes a longer view to ensure that we remain fit for the future.
That is why the City of London Corporation’s Planning and Transportation Committee last week approved a hugely ambitious Local Plan.
These proposals, which will be open for public consultation next Monday, outline a vision to 2036 that will ensure that the next generation of City workers, residents, and visitors can continue to enjoy a world-class environment.
The plan aims to promote sustainable development and meet the changing demands of occupiers over the next two decades, while also safeguarding our unique heritage assets and protected views.
Tall towers and iconic institutions are emblematic of the City, but it is important to remember that SMEs account for 99 per cent of firms in the Square Mile.
The Local Plan will make it easier than ever for incubators and SMEs to set up here over the next two decades by encouraging flexible office floorspace that can be adapted as businesses evolve and grow.
Improving transport and servicing is also a major priority. Developers will be expected to work with the transport, delivery, and servicing industries to contribute to freight transport consolidation, reducing traffic congestion at peak times.
This is in line with the City’s new 25-year Transport Strategy, which places a greater emphasis on pavement space and prioritisation of pedestrians.
Providing pedestrian routes through new buildings will become more of a trend, similar to that seen with the Bloomberg arcade.
For the first time, a policy on urban greening will also be introduced to make the City a more attractive place to work and live. All new developments and refurbishments will be required to include a greening element to the building or public realm to improve biodiversity and help tackle air and noise pollution.
The City’s vibrant commercial, cultural, and retail offers will also be enhanced to complement office space. Significant enhancements are being planned at Broadgate to deliver a thriving retail environment, while “Culture Mile” will transform the area between Farringdon and Moorgate into a new creative destination.
Meanwhile, the Elizabeth Line will make the City more accessible than ever from east to west.
Businesses are increasingly making decisions on their international presence based on the quality of the buildings, infrastructure, and local environment that they can offer to their employees.
All this adds up to a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the Square Mile to rise to the challenge of changing demands. Our Local Plan will help us seize this opportunity to ensure that the City flourishes after Brexit – and beyond.