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London mayor commissions research into future challenges and opportunities

Mapping work will begin with a major research and evidence-gathering exercise into the issues that central London and the Canary Wharf area are facing given the reduction in footfall due to the pandemic.

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Khan wants to explore what more City Hall and government can do to help businesses
Khan wants to explore what more City Hall and government can do to help businesses

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is commissioning research into the future challenges and opportunities facing central London and the Canary Wharf area, given the rapid reduction in footfall due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

In a statement, the mayor’s office said London’s global business, commercial and cultural centre, based in what are known as the Central Activities Zone and Northern Isle of Dogs (CAZ and NIoD), is under “immediate threat”. In the long-term, new challenges and opportunities will be created by the more lasting cultural and economic changes arising from or exacerbated by the pandemic.

 

Maintaining competitiveness

 

The London Transition Board has been leading on tackling the immediate challenges of reopening central London and ensuring a safe return to work for Londoners. But the mayor wants to ensure London’s global competitiveness for the future, and to safeguard and enhance its position as an international powerhouse for culture, tourism and innovation, by understanding and preparing for the long-term impacts on the central London economy.

 

The first phase of the mapping work will be a major research and evidence-gathering exercise into the issues that central London and the Canary Wharf area are facing, and the trends that are likely to develop, with an interim report due early in the New Year. Following this, the focus will shift to exploring potential policy solutions to help the centre of London evolve and adapt to potential shifts and transitions.

 

This research follows a major survey announced by Khan last week asking London businesses to provide more detail on how many people can actually physically go back into their workplaces with the social distancing rules in place, in order to understand what “back to work” really means in central London.

 

This work will provide a major snapshot of the position of London offices now – and where businesses expect to be in six months – to help show what more City Hall and government can do to help businesses.

 

Khan and councillor Peter John, the chair of London Councils, have also confirmed further details about long-term measures to enable a positive recovery across the city.

 

Eight ‘missions’ designed to tackle economic and social issues head-on have been agreed by London Recovery Board members following collective thinking from local authorities, health and care bodies, business groups, trade unions, the voluntary sector, academia, national government and other bodies. As part of the decision-making process, Londoners have informed the priorities and content of the missions through a mass public engagement exercise using the Talk London platform, which currently has nearly 60,000 users.

“The extent to which trends and shifts that were already affecting central London have been sped up or exacerbated by Covid-19 will persist into the future are unknown”

“There is no doubt that the economic crisis caused by the Covid pandemic will be prolonged and far-reaching,” said Khan. “The rises in Covid cases in recent days is seriously concerning and we will all have to abide by social distancing rules for a long time to come.

 

He continued: “Hopefully at some point not too long from now, we will have defeated this virus and social distancing will come to an end. But the extent to which trends and shifts that were already affecting central London have been sped up or exacerbated by Covid-19, or behaviours that have come about as a result of how people have responded to the virus will persist into the future are unknown.

 

“But these have the potential to have a dramatic impact on issues like planning, public transport and economic development in central London and it is only right and responsible we look at these issues now, identify both the challenges and the opportunities, and start planning for our city’s future over the coming years.”

 

The missions aim to restore confidence in the city, minimise the impact on London’s communities and build back better the capital’s economy and society. They are:

  • Green New Deal: tackle the climate and ecological emergencies and improve air quality by doubling the size of London’s green economy by 2030 to accelerate job creation for all
  • A Robust Safety Net: by 2025, every Londoner is able to access the support they need to prevent financial hardship
  • High Streets for All: deliver enhanced public spaces and exciting new uses for underused high street buildings in every Borough by 2025, working with London’s diverse communities
  • A New Deal for Young People: by 2024 all young people in need are entitled to a personal mentor and all young Londoners have access to quality local youth activities
  • Helping Londoners into Good Work: support Londoners into good jobs with a focus on sectors key to London’s recovery
  • Mental health and wellbeing: by 2025 London will have a quarter of a million wellbeing ambassadors, supporting Londoners where they live, work and play
  • Digital Access for All: every Londoner to have access to good connectivity, basic digital skills and the device or support they need to be online by 2025
  • Healthy Food, Healthy Weight: by 2025 every Londoner lives in a healthy food neighbourhood.

The board will also explore what work can be done across sectors to support London’s communities to be more resilient in future such as building on the network of mutual aid groups that sprang up across the city in the first wave of Covid-19 infections.

 

The London Recovery Taskforce will oversee the delivery of these missions. Work will be led by a range of partner organisations across the capital, keeping in mind the risks and barriers potentially posed by the current rise in infection rates.

 

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