On Tuesday 15 September, Patricia Brown joined the ULI UK Young Leaders for a Lunch & Learn session to discuss her initiative London 3.0 – tracing the recent history of London, its ups and downs, success and failures and where we need to go next to make London a better place for all.
Pat began her presentation by going back in time to London 1.0 – the 1990s. Cars dominated and the pedestrian experience came second; good public realm was lacking and pollution and congestion were intoxicating. She traced the change of mindset seen towards the end of the 90s – characterised in part by the arrival of the Central London Partnership and many others – who began to lobby for a more welcoming city which put quality at the centre of the urban experience.
Over the subsequent two decades, London 2.0 evolved. London’s first mayor, Ken Livingstone, arrived on the scene; major urban spaces like Trafalgar Square were pedestrianised, the Congestion Charge came into effect, Business Improvement Districts were implemented and wayfinding was given a renewed focus. The sharing economy evolved, cycling grew in popularity as the sustainability agenda took hold and the quality of the public realm became central to London’s evolving vision.
But Pat argued that in all of this, there have been many unintended consequences of success as other factors have begun to undermine the changes that had been made for the better.
We arrive in 2020, looking back at the many achievements that London has had over the last two decades, but with the knowledge that a new direction is now needed. The rise of Amazon, Uber, Deliveroo and others has resulted in increased congestion; house prices continue to inflate, causing displacement and inequality, and new technologies are encroaching on the space that had been so successfully taken back for pedestrians.
London 3.0 is a call to action to think differently about London and to mobilise ourselves to engender changes that will further improve the city experience for everyone.
Pat ended her presentation by asking the audience to consider the following questions:
What is the one thing you would like to see celebrated about London?
What do you wish we had focused on, or focused on more?
If we come back together in a decade or two, what will you be pleased we have got right as a result of active planning/intervention?
The audience spoke about the need to refocus our attention on London’s infrastructure to ensure that further growth is supported; the complexities of gentrification – and the ways that displacement can be avoided – were discussed, as was the importance of good leadership in ensuring that change could be directed in the right way and with the right momentum.
The session provided an important opportunity to consider the changes that London has seen over the past two decades, celebrate the achievements that have been made, and calibrate to ensure that London’s future evolution responds to the needs of all in an effective and creative way.