NLA London’s Towns exhibition

A study launched by New London Architecture examines how innovative regeneration of outer London’s station sites will be vital to deliver the density of development required to house London’s predicted population growth.

The study says that to ensure “good growth”more orbital links on public transport are required, so that people do not have to travel in and out of the centre of London. It also demands better use of local character as the foundation for new development.

NLA say London as an egg is “becoming more scrambled” with major growth taking place in town centres around the city. As the capital faces unprecedented change with the population expected to reach over 11m by 2050, their new report  sets out the importance of supporting a polycentric city to ensure places are created that retain their distinctiveness and character.

With the next wave of development coming forward outside the established ‘city centre’, in long-established town centres and in emerging ones, such as Old Oak Common, NLA wants to see the Mayor of London’s next London Plan (draft due to be published in December 2017) support the concept of London as a many-centred city and help develop the changing relationship between the centre and the suburbs.

To deliver the new homes and jobs London desperately needs while managing growth in the right way for local communities, NLA recommends that innovative regeneration around outer London’s stations – while complex and difficult to build around – are the best places for high density development.

TfL owns a huge amount of land in London and has the potential to deliver 10,000 homes across 300 acres, many of them around outer London station sites.

An extensive design workshop, organised as part of the NLA study, brought together young professionals including architects, landscape architects, engineers and developers to come up with new concepts and ideas that could transform five potential future station sites – at Morden, Turnpike Lane, Burnt Oak, South Harrow and Barking.

Supported by expert advisors, the teams came up with ambitious but achievable ways to transform each challenging site with a higher – density mixed use development. While each team came up with a site-specific response the aim was for the ideas developed to be replicable to other station sites across the capital. The workshop highlighted the importance of innovative regeneration around station sites to provide the capacity London so desperately needs while supporting the vitality of outer London’s town centres.

NLA has sought insight from key experts in the fields of architecture, planning and regeneration, to create its report “London’s Towns: Shaping the Polycentric City” – which is says is the most comprehensive study to dateon London’s towns. The report highlights the growing reliance on town centres across the capital as places to both live and work. It stresses how London’s economic growth needs to be spread more equally across the city rather than having it all concentrated in one central area.

The report sets out the drivers and the solutions for the creation of a many-centred city that provides places where people can work, live and play and that retain their distinctiveness and character.

To ensure ‘good growth’ in London’s towns the report concludes that London needs better physical and digital connectivity; robust shared visions and plans; better use of local character as the foundation for new development; innovative, high quality mixed development; incremental, phased growth; and denser development that respects local character.

Peter Murray, Chairman of the NLA, said: “Although the centre is still the key economic driver of the capital, the changing nature of London matches Cedric Price’s famous analogy of the city as an egg. London is changing and, from being a fried egg with everything concentrated in the middle, the contemporary city is gradually becoming more scrambled.

“We believe that a city’s growth is not just defined by the success of its centre, but in the spread of opportunity across it as a whole. Our report outlines a vision for London as a multi-centred or ‘polycentric’ city, making the most of the potential offered by its existing towns and emerging new ones.

“Without attention and investment in outer London, the continued economic and social vitality of London’s towns and their ability to accommodate London’s population growth in the future is threatened. Paris and other world cities are putting a spotlight on their suburbs – why not London?

“Our aim is to pull knowledge from those who are most interested in managing the capital’s growth as well as learning from other cities that

are in similar situations. We are now seeking further discussion

with Londoners about growth in outer London and look forward to welcoming people at our London’s Towns exhibition to join in the conversation.”

The NLA Insight Study London’s Towns, Shaping the Polycentric City is available to download here. The report’s findings are on display as part of an exhibition at the NLA Galleries at the Building Centre, in Store Street until Thursday 11 January 2018.

There are also several events running alongside the exhibition:

Public Assets: Enabling growth – half-day conference – 30 November 
Outer London Station Sites – breakfast talk – 1 December
London’s Towns: Stratford lunchtime talk – 1 December

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