My day started bright and early, as I headed into the City for our Vibrant Capital summit at County Hall, Westminster for a full and exciting agenda exploring how we can work collaboratively to make London the best it can be. The summit was hosted by Sir Trevor McDonald and had some really interesting guest speakers including the actor and activist Michael Sheen.
One key theme that has recurred throughout our work on Vibrant Capital has been the accessibility and affordability of housing in London and today’s summit was no exception. There was an acknowledgement that high house prices are pushing some Londoners out of the city towards more affordable areas and while people recognise that London is a fantastic place to launch a business or a career, the cost of living, particularly for those with young families, means it is often more affordable to live and work outside London, even after a substantial pay cut. Our research has so far indicated that a significant minority (16%) of Londoners intend to quit living and working in the city. They are disproportionately young, professional and with young families (32% of quitters are aged between 25 and 34).
After hearing from the speakers on this and many other issues, we broke out into smaller groups and discussed a range of innovative ideas, from the integration of work and living spaces to building connected communities with a centre and a purpose. One guest suggested building low-cost, eco-friendly lodges with tech-friendly hubs as part of the solution to the housing crisis. The most popular idea was ‘CUDDLE’, an acronym for collaboratively urban democratically designed London living environment. This was closely followed by #DownWithDolly, with the aim of getting rid of the 9-5 working pattern. As my colleague Jenny Brown commented, London is already a 24/7 city and it should be accessible no matter what time of day or night. The flip side of this is that there should be greater flexibility during the 9-5 day for workers to run errands, exercise or spend time with friends and family.
The Vibrant Capital summit was the culmination of six months of discussions and gathering insights about how best to secure the future of London as a Vibrant Capital, a great place to live, work and grow. But the conversation doesn’t end here. As a team and as a wider firm, we will continue to bring people together from across London to build on the key themes that have emerged to date and to encourage even greater activism and innovation.
The city’s unique mix of industry, culture, and heritage is dependent on Londoners – more than eight million of them – and the many hundreds of thousands more who commute in every day. They are the lifeblood of an economy which is not just one of the world’s most successful, but could also become one of the world’s most vibrant.