We’re investigating how London’s city centre can support more homes while continuing to prosper as the capital’s economic and cultural hub.
The future of concentrated office and other commercial functions in city centres such as London’s has never seemed more uncertain than it does now. While the long-term impacts of the pandemic are still unclear, it looks likely that central London’s recovery will involve changes to how property is used – the mix of offices, commercial spaces, and homes.
Demand for office space dipped sharply in 2020 as those who could work from home did so. How much and how quickly demand returns is an open question. Between the more extreme scenarios, there is a growing consensus that central London is likely to see some reduction in office demand and some increase in residential uses alongside cultural, community and hospitality services.
This project will examine how more people could live in central London, in a way that does not inhibit, and ideally complements, the Central Activities Zone’s (CAZ’s) ability to grow and prosper as a centre of employment and wider economic, cultural and social activity. The project will consider the planning, policy and stewardship implications of supporting and managing any change.
By international standards, relatively few people live in central London, although in recent years we have already seen dramatic growth in the CAZ’s residential population. Pre-pandemic reports underlined that a good mix between residential and commercial uses is a hallmark of successful and attractive cities, offering a complementary balance of uses, and improving safety and liveability through enabling formal and informal stewardship of public spaces.
Our research will seek to answer the following questions:
- What types of development and funding models might work best in creating a richer mix of groups of residents and businesses without compromising the CAZ’s status?
- How should residents’ and businesses’ interests be reflected in local governance and policy?
- What lessons can be learned from other city centres about how to ensure a successful and harmonious mix?
We will investigate how the characteristics of different areas are likely to influence their development as the city recovers from the coronavirus pandemic. We will hold roundtables with central London developers and boroughs, poll London residents, and review international case studies to reflect on best practice. We aim to publish a final report in spring 2022.
If you would like to get in touch about this project, please contact Josh Cottell.