LI launches new film on liveability

We must show the economic benefits of liveability says Noel Farrer

The benefits of liveability must be laid out in financial terms if they are to have an impact on government, the LI’s president-elect Noel Farrer has said.

He was speaking at an event organised as part of the London Festival of Architecture, called ‘How Liveable is London?’. Despite all the guidance produced in schemes such as ‘Building for Life 12’ and the findings of the Farrell report, ‘I don’t think we have got the message through,’ he said.

To have an impact, he argued, ‘We have to talk about it in terms of economy – of saving money and of making money. We need to talk about improving health and reducing crime. We have to talk about it in terms of work. We have to make it clear that liveability delivers answers to those agendas.’

The event saw two launches – of a report called ‘Towards a Liveable London’ produced by CPRE London, and a video on the issue of liveability, produced by urban design expert and cartoonist Rob Cowan.

CPRE, with its rural concerns, may not seem the immediate organisation to generate such a report, but its concern about urban sprawl means that it wants the city itself to be able to survive and prosper with increasing density. John Croxen, chair of the CPRE London Branch, wrote in the introduction, ‘CPRE London continues to campaign against inappropriate developments in the London green belt and on Metropolitan Open Land. When we found ourselves the fortunate recipient of a significant legacy, we decided to commission research into how London could best meet the challenge of growth with as little impact as impossible on green spaces.’

The report has five key message. A liveable London, it says, needs to:
• deliver more affordable homes
• manage higher densities
• integrate neighbourhood design
• diversify housing developments
• foster place-keeping.

Speaking at the launch, Rosalie Callway, one half of the research team, said, ‘Place-keeping takes the concept of place-making through to the future. It asks, how do we encourage quality?’ The report also questioned, she said, whether the dominance of London and the south-east in the housing market was inevitable. ‘Should government be more proactive? This is a strategic planning question.’

Rob Cowan has produced a video which provides a sideways, alluring but enlightening view of liveability and whch is now available to view on the LI’s YouTube channel.

Speaking at the discussion afterwards Darren Johnson, who chairs the housing committee at the Greater London Assembly and represents the Green Party, addressed the question of why other northern European cities had adopted principles of liveability so much more successfully. ‘It’s down to political will,’ he said, ‘that things don’t happen. We can see those principles being enacted elsewhere.’

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