Thursday, 26th June 2014

Temple Group at Base London 2014

Temple was a major contributor to the debate on London’s future risks and resilience at Base London 2014 at the Guildhall, including launching our 22nd century turquoise cities and infrastructure concept.  We also ran a Base Xtra event in conjunction with Mace and Centre for Cities on ‘Liveable Cities: does London have the answers?’. Base London once again attracted keynote speakers at the forefront of understanding how London needs to harness its infrastructure and development renewal to create sustainable value. For example Fiona Woolf (Lord Mayor of London), Dr Gerard Lyons (chief economic adviser to the Mayor of London), Sir David King (Chair of the Future Cities Catapult) and Ken Shuttleworth (founder of Make Architects).

Joining the panel session on Placemaking, Temple’s Director Chris Fry contributed to the discussion about practical ways to realise the full potential of major regeneration at Vauxhall Nine Elms on the Southbank and Meridian Water in Enfield.  He outlined how the turquoise cities and infrastructure concept could be applied at different scales to ensure that the projects create 22ndcentury places that combine liveability and usability, water and climate resilience, harnessing environmental systems and innovation. To find out more visit our blog post here or the video clipfrom the panel session.

Three reviews of other parts of Base 2014 are provided below by Temple and The Ecology Consultancy staff (views are their own).  The full Base London 2014 event programme andvideos, photos and other post show resources are also available to download.

Mace, Centre for Cities and Temple: ‘liveable cities: does London have the answers?’
Genevieve Oller, Temple

Although the ‘liveable cities’ breakfast session was being coordinated by Temple in conjunction with Mace and Centre for Cities and I therefore had an idea of what was going to be discussed, it was undoubtedly the session that I found most interesting. The talks from Zach Wilcox (Centre of Cities) and Temple’s Ben Harris and comments from session chair Steve Gillingham (MACE) offered an interesting perspective on the potential that London has to become a blueprint for liveable cities, as well as where it has limitations. Furthermore, the venue, an 11th century underground crypt complete with stained glass windows, made for one of the most atmospheric settings in which you could ever hope to be in to discuss London’s buildings and infrastructure!

Zach from Centre for Cities was up first and emphasised the importance of transport as an enabler in achieving greater regeneration in London. When discussing this he referenced the recent ‘delivering change: making transport work for cities’ report that he has authored. Zach praised organisations in London such as TfL and the GLA that can channel expertise and funding into innovative projects and provide a holistic approach, which other cities across England do not benefit from. As a Londoner it is easy to forget about the positive things about our transport system and it was good to be reminded.

Ben spoke about London as a microcosm for what is happening globally. London has an increasing urban population and regeneration driven by transport provision. Whilst this makes for a more exciting, vibrant city it comes with a heightened need to respond to changing demographics, pressures on resources and our environment. Ben’s talk emphasised the importance of establishing an infrastructure that can cope with these changes. He talked about the importance of intelligent mobility in achieving this regeneration. Ben discussed Temple’s work with the Transport Systems Catapult, including the ‘sentiment mapping’ project that is looking into how data from social media and other sources can be used to map and improve people’s experience of transport systems.

GLA, UK Power Networks and TfL: ‘the long view: housing, energy and transport keynotes and panel’
Erica Ward, Temple Group

This session really highlighted some of the challenges but also the opportunities that London will encounter with its rising population. How are we going to deal with an extra population the size of Birmingham by 2050? All three speakers really hit home with their arguments for introducing new and upgraded infrastructure to meet tomorrow’s challenges.

David Lunts, executive director of housing and land for the GLA, started with a fact-filled and impassioned presentation for treating housing as strategic infrastructure. We heard from Basil Scarsella, chief executive officer of UK Power Networks who claimed that London could be a powerhouse, as well as a consumer of energy. For Michèle Dix, managing director for planning at TfL, planning for the next 20 to 50 years has to start now, amidst competing demands for space and investment. There could also be opportunities by linking up land use and transport planning.

Some members of the audience questioned whether we should be encouraging growth (both population and economic) in London, to the detriment of other centres. The panel’s universal response: growth should be seen as a good thing. The growth that is happening in London is of high value jobs bringing substantial wealth to the UK and to the government’s coffers. We are not competing with other regional centres, but with international cities, such as Frankfurt.

When I reflected on this, even if this is not the kind of growth or wealth creation I might like to see for a sustainable and resilient city, this growth seems bound to happen. Moving populations and jobs is very difficult. In any case, population growth is coming from indigenous Londoners, who are “fertile, young and they breed”, according to Lunts. We therefore have to find ways to provide opportunities for a growing London and to make intelligent use of the space and money we have to meet Londoner’s needs, while being as sustainable as possible along the way.

Tomorrow’s City and a Vision for the Future
Melanie Oxley, the Ecology Consultancy

The best session for me was the final line-up in the Guildhall, which included Ken Livingstone (previously of the Mayorship of London), Jeremy Leggett (previously of Greenpeace and now a renewables entrepreneur) and Stanley Johnson (previously a Member of the European Parliament and father of Boris).

Some really good points were made by Ken Livingstone about future cities and sustainability. Jeremy Leggett made a strident plea for an end to fossil fuel extraction, whilst acknowledging that the failure to curb their use is all down to money. He proposed that reserves were ‘written down’ to £0, instead of being valued as owned assets.

Some really practical low carbon suggestions were made by another speaker, David Picton of Carillion, such as, replacing all public lighting with LED’s. However all order collapsed when Stanley Johnson got up to show a series of holiday snaps to illustrate the concept of a smart city through innovative ideas in place in Medellín, Colombia, featuring himself in every picture. This was doubly funny as the convenor, Tony Manwaring of Tomorrow’s Company, got the giggles, and since we were also enjoying the exceptional beers that had been provided by Adnams of Southwold.