The first Place West London Conference was hailed as a “great success”.
Over 130 organisations from public and private sector sent around 300 people to the day Conference, and another 200 came to the evening dinner. Delegates, who hailed the event as a “great success”, were treated to an immense variety of sessions involving over 70 top level speakers.
Londons Deputy Mayor Richard Barnes opened the Conference, saying that the economy of West London is as important to the Capital as that of the City of London, and that to think of West London as a leafy suburb is to misunderstand the challenges.
West London is the heart and lungs of Londons economy and you ignore it at your peril, concluded Barnes. The public and private sectors must work together to sustain our economies and communities.
Speaking at the inaugural conference and exhibition designed to discuss and debate the issues central to maintaining London as a successful place, Barnes added that the construction of Crossrail must not be put off again.
Barnes also applauded the massive regeneration programme that is benefiting East London, primarily through 2012 initiatives, cautioning that we cannot sustain a city that is divided by a dereliction of opportunity and hope.
The opening session of Place West London also featured presentations from Surinder Arora, Chairman of Arora International; Dennis Turner, HSBC chief economist; and David Lunts, London Director, Homes and Communities Agency.
Surinder Arora focused on his vision for West London, saying that he has always been very passionate about the opportunities afforded to people in the UK. Arora came out in favour of the Third Runway at Heathrow Airport, saying that if London does not do it, it will find increasing competition from the likes of Schiphol, Frankfurt and Charles de Gaulle, and that wthout R3 London risks becoming second best.
Economist Dennis Turner outlined the circumstances that lead to the economic slowdown and the credit crunch, and focused on the economic forecast for west London. Focusing on the post recession agenda, Turner stated that we need to do something different this time to avoid another crisis: all of the previous economic drivers were domestically focused, such as a reliance on consumer spending, and next time around well need more investment and more exports to build a stronger economy, with industrial manufacturing being particularly important.
To draw a one conclusion from Turners comments: with West London home to Park Royal, one of the largest industrial estates in Europe, a renewed focus on manufacturing may signal good news for West London.
Finally, David Lunts of the Homes and Communities Agency, overviewed the West London context, and focused on the opportunity areas and pockets of deprivation that contradict the leafy suburb image.
Lunts primarily focused on the housing market, saying that the HCA is looking to help create affordable homes in places where people choose to live, and that it wants to work locally, with local authorities engaging with the HCA. The HCAs single conversation should be Renewal Affordability Sustainability Growth.
The opening session was chaired by Peter Bill of the Evening Standard.
Further reports on the event will follow.
Plans are already in place for the second Place West London evemt, to be held in 2010. For information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.