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'London needs a plan for the next wave of city hubs,' says Aedas chairman

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London needs to create a study pinpointing where the next generation of city hubs should be built, according to Aedas chairman Keith Griffiths.

Speaking to the Architects’ Journal at the MIPIM UK property show in Olympia, Griffiths said that although densification was generally a matter for each local authority, large ‘city scale’ hubs needed to be planned on a city-wide basis.

‘As London densifies there will be probably be a network of around 15 plus city hubs at the scale of Paddington or Stratford,’ Griffiths said. ‘They need to be planned in terms of investment in infrastructure, the culture and the environment.

To do this, London needs to create a study determining the most appropriate places to create the city hubs that will stand it in good stead for the next 100 years.’

In a panel debate discussing mixed-use development, Griffiths stressed that this kind of development could not be opportunistic. ‘I would urge London to look at its land supply and guide developers to sites which are well connected,’ he said.

Griffiths co-panellists included managing director of First Base, Elliot Lipton, Councillor Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth council and chair Dr Gheorge Multescu, course director, School of the Built Environment and Architecture at London South Bank University.

Griffiths opened the discussion by saying that China was ‘leading the world in the Urban Village model’. He said: ‘China’s agricultural land is disappearing too fast with 22 million people a year moving to cities. There simply isn’t enough pavement to provide public space at ground level so we need to create it at ground and upper levels.’

Griffiths added the key to creating a mixed-use development was to ‘design a vibrant hub where people work, live and recreate in one place.’

Lipton questioned why the Asian mixed-use model was not catching on in the UK. ‘We need a different development model from just build, sell, move on.’ He continued: ‘What matters most in the planning system is interpretation. When a developer looks at a project as a series of gives to the local community that is when it works best.’

Govindia identified the main challenge in a mixed-use development was ensuring the local community got something unique. ‘If you are going to get a café how do you make sure it is not another high-street chain. How do you personalise mixed-use?’ he said.  

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