London’s future has industry

Just Space Economy & Planning – London’s future has industry

at Makerversity, Somerset House
On Wednesday 11 May Just Space Economy and Planning held a meeting to follow up on the Making the City Ideas Workshop which took place in March 2016. The meeting was attended by 20 participants from a range of backgrounds, including long-standing members of Just Space and JSEP as well as some participants from the Making the City event.

Makerversity1

Overview of the Making the City Ideas Workshop

Following the seminar on industrial land held by JSEP and CASS Cities in January 2015, a working group was set up to focus on industrial capacity issues and develop solutions to put forward to the Mayor of London. In order to expand the network and tap into wider resources and expertise, the group organised the Making the City Ideas Workshop on 18 March 2016. The event brought together members of JSEP, the East End Trades Guild, academics, GLA and local authority officers, architects and planners to brainstorm ideas on 5 themes:
* Design solutions facilitating industrial and residential mix
* Diverse economies – building on strengths
* Strategic and Local Planning – future direction
* Building industrial capacity
* Alternative development & ownership models

Discussion on policy ideas

Dr Jessica Ferm (UCL) presented a summary of the main problems facing London’s industry and the key policy ideas generated at the workshop, which can be accessed here Policy ideas from Making the City workshop2

The main comments on the policy proposals were:

  • They have to be realistic and achievable, especially as Local Authorities are lacking the power and resources to implement them. They need political backing, but also discussions with developers.
  • We have to make the argument for the benefits of production activities: they are high productivity sectors, they create the kinds of jobs and skills we need for a sustainable economy, the outputs from these activities contribute to and support other sectors.
  • Some of the policy ideas are lacking the precision and level of detail needed to ensure their implementation and enforcement achieve what they are intended to. JSEP should seek advice from people working on planning policy formulation.

Building capacity

Liz Corbin (UCL Institute of Making) led the discussion on building a collective voice for London’s industry and manufacturing more specifically. The key messages were:

* Need to develop a public-facing campaign to spread the argument on the value and benefits of London’s industry to a wider audience. For example, a ‘Made in London’ campaign could give a clear and strong identity to manufacturers and shopkeepers and start a dialogue with customers and the general public.
* This has to be complemented by building capacity within the business community through establishing networks and making connections more visible (for example, through developing from the local level documentation done in places like Tottenham and Park Royal).
* We need to think about the future of industry and how it’s going to be shaped by technology and innovation.
* Use the duty of Local Authorities and the GLA to achieve Sustainable Development as leverage for arguing the social, economic and environmental benefit of local industry and push for more progressive policy approaches.
* There are benefits in starting with small, tangible targets and focusing on area-based pilot projects in order to set successful precedents. But this has to go alongside a London-wide strategy to ensure the rest of the city’s industry which is largely unrepresented can benefit from this work.

Reaching decision makers

There was wide agreement that it is necessary to initiate discussions with policy and decision-makers in order to take these proposals forward. The election of a new Mayor and London Assembly creates an opportunity to do this at the formative stages of the London Plan and other Mayoral strategies. Some suggestions were:

* An open letter to the Mayor signed by those attending the meeting and the previous workshop to set out a clear position and ask for a meeting.
* Contact the London Assembly Economy and Planning committees to ask for an investigation on industrial land in London as part of their work programmes over the coming year.
* Identify a list of contacts at the GLA who can support and progress this work further.

Next steps

As part of the Just Space Community-led Plan for London, JSEP is working to develop the Economy chapter which will set out policy proposals on six different themes, including industry. Some of the policy ideas debated at the meeting will be developed further and included in that document, which will be discussed at the next JSEP meeting in the first week of June.