The final plenary session at the Capital West London Growth Summit sought to look forwards, to try to discuss what shape the future might take, and how West London could best prepare.
Three speakers – Laura Citron, of London & Partners; The Rt. Hon. Lord David Blunkett, who chairs the Heathrow Skills Taskforce, among other things: and Paul Najsarek, of LB Ealing – spoke about a variety of subjects.
Lord Blunkett, talked about how the National Strategic Infrastructure plan affected the sub-region, in particular what skills would be necessary to build out and benefit from the planned and potential major schemes. He wanted to make sure that we avoid large sums of public money going in to schemes that fail to deliver improved outcomes to local people.
Laura Citron talked about inward investment in to London, and to West London. She said that while there was some uncertainty still, there was definitely still investment flowing in. “Inward investment in to London is strong in 2019. Tech investment in 2019 is bigger than 2018, and we have had more fintech investment than New York so far this year”, she said.
“Investment decisions are about capital, connectivity, customers, talent, and ecosystem,” she said. “West London does very well on all these things. Since 2011, 14% of London FDI has come to west London. The sectors it heads to are different to London as a whole – we see more life science, retail and leisure investment in West London.”
“These criteria are necessary, but not sufficient. Inward investment is driven by perception and personal preference. London’s global appeal helps London FDI. We need to tell a coherent and optimistic story about London, and then about West London. West London will be a very different place in 2050, need to make sure the stories that we tell reflect that.”
Paul Najsarek talked about the things that will shape the future – progress in technology, artificial intelligence, and more will affect both the way we live our lives and the way we work. He also talked about population and demographic changes. “West London will continue to grow, and social movements that we haven’t yet felt will be changing our society,” he said.
And he talked about what West London was doing to get ready for these changes – the commitment to building new homes in significant numbers; investment in digital infrastructure, a “new deal for data”; the work on the proposed West London Orbital, a new train line; and the work on a response to climate change, with continued focus on shifting travel to walking and cycling.
In summing up conference chair Amol Rajan said: “There is a real sense that this is West London’s time. West London is about to have a really revolutionary moment. It’s an exciting time.
“Today I’ve heard a lot about two big themes – the idea of making development feel inclusive, helping those who might feel left out get involved in growth – and also climate change, the fundamental challenge. It sounds as if, from the climate emergency declared by several of the boroughs, that West London has a plan.”