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LandAid Debate 2013

Competitive Cities

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 - 18:00 GLA Debating Chamber, City Hall, London

After the opening comments of the 2013 LandAid Debate and free ranging Q&A, it was time to vote. In this fast changing global world of competitive cities, what does London have to do to stay ahead of the game?

Should there be a single, overarching larger central city borough? No
Should London keep stamp duty receipts? Yes
Should development taxes be consolidated and simplified? Absolutely
Airport development; East or West? East
Should the city go up or out? Almost unanimously up.

With close to 300 property professionals gathered for the 2013 LandAid Debate, , sponsored by Pinsent Masons, the strength of opinion on the key motions was clear.

With red and green voting cars held aloft, one speaker was heard to comment this might be a good way to make policy; it certainly send an immediate message. London is great for many historical reasons, but it needs to modernise and quickly. The city should be bold with its plans and secure additional funding sources to support the much discussed future need for housing.

The debate and discussion were surprisingly unanimous in tone across the speakers. Professor Ricky Burdett pointed out that London has serious issues of deprivation, with life expectancy losing a year with every stop along the Jubilee line from Westminster to Stratford. And that density in the centre is far lower than cities like New York and Hong Kong. Dr Danny Thorniley highlighted that £1.7 trillion has been spent on proper up the financial system, with very little change to the system that needed changing. The status quo appears to be the status for now. Indy Johar highlighted that the size of companies and type or work is changing. It is, he proposed, the end of big and London can take advantage of this as well as any global city. Sir Edward Lister pointed out that for all the challenges facing London, the value of London is in its green space, education, the city population and speaking English.

Questions from the floor covered airport capacity, a planning system that was too bureaucratic and too slow around development, London being at the vanguard of changes in working styles and locations, the fragile nature of equity finance and the perils of spooking organisations with money. 

“The LandAid Debate was an illuminating discussion, covering airport and infrastructure, increasing city density and overcoming obstacles to development. These are important issues if London it going to maintain its position as a world-leading competitive city,” said Mike Slade Chief Executive of Helical Bar and President at LandAid.

Mike Hussey, Chief Executive at Almacantar, provided a neat summary of opinion suggesting that London will be slipping away from the its position as a leading global city over the next generation if we don’t get it together. In amongst the debate, Alison Nimmo, Chief Executive at The Crown Estate, posed the question about how to balance the needs of the rich and famous with the general population?

For LandAid, that could be taken one stage further. How to meet the needs of the disadvantaged, in particular for LandAid those between 16 and 25? It’s a serious challenge for any city to make sure it looks after all parts of the city population. Without a population, it’s a collection of buildings, networks and infrastructure. And one of London’s key benefits is its people.

Big thanks to:

LandAid would like to extend out thanks to everyone involved, in particular to Pinsent Masons for their sponsorship and support, to all our speakers, to the volunteers that assisted on the night and to everyone that attended and donated funds to LandAid.