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May 10, 2022

NextGen Future Cities Launch

Kickstarting a new programme of activity focused on the city of the future, G&T's NextGen came together to share ideas and think big at the launch of this new initiative.

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The future cities campaign gives the nextgen the opportunity to come together and use creative thinking to find out what they want to see from the future of their city spaces, the key areas for development and how this will affect the built environment in years to come. 

At the launch of the programme we brought the network together to discuss five future city scenarios, splitting attendees into smaller working groups led by five NextGen champions. Based on a report from the Business of Cities, attendees debated the pros and cons and voted on their preferred scenario. 

Gardiner & Theobald - 7 X5 A3819
"The Future Cities campaign offers the NextGen the opportunity to have their say on the built environment’s future. Using the government's grand challenges, we aim to reveal what the nextgen care about, the direction they want our cities to take and what this could mean for the sector."

NextGen Programme Lead

Laura Le Boutillier

NextGen Key Takeaways:

The ideal future city will be the best physically and digitally connected city on the planet. It will have infrastructure for public, active and electric (and other clean fuels) passenger and freight transport, as well as world-class amenities and places to help everyone use and enjoy it equally.

Greener methods of transport, alongside a desire to spend time predominantly within a smaller neighbourhood, as championed by the '15-Minute City' model, are favoured with increased funding and development around suburban areas.

Fairness, diversity & inclusion and what these will mean for the built environment were key themes throughout all the working groups, especially the 'Levelled Up city'. Placemaking, retrofitting and the reclaiming of empty disused properties would be important areas to develop, in order to create cities with better amenities and more affordable housing.

Government and policy was high on the agenda with groups debating whether future cities would benefit from a federalised UK. Questions such as, would a compound government cause greater cohesion or what is the answer for inequality between city areas were discussed. One benefit identified in the 'Citidependence' group was that with new powers to govern each city differently, tailored solutions to longstanding issues such as homelessness could be tackled more successfully.

Maximising economic growth, whilst maintaining the cultural heritage of cities alongside their ever growing population will present new challenges never experienced by the industry before. Pressure on the pace of housing development and other significant growth projects such as Crossrail 2 would be needed to help account for such challenges, as mentioned in the 'Mega-Captial City' group. Above all else the race to net zero will need to be prioritised as the industry tries to keep up with ageing demographics and expanding cities.

Gardiner & Theobald - E 220505 N57 Medium
"It was great to be back networking and sharing ideas with fellow NextGen members again"

Associate Director & NextGen Champion

Emma Scott-Miller

Addressing future issues such as childhood obesity, public safety and a lack of connectivity, the 'Safety First City' group focused heavily on security, health and resilience of future cities. Encouraging blue sky thinking some innovative solutions included safety apps to guide people the ‘safest route home’ and increased biophilic design, such as fruit trees and game parks to encourage young people to get outside and get active.

Nextgen agreed that a significant culture change across the sector would be needed to encourage politicians and others to think about necessary investment and policy change to develop this future utopia.

What were the five city scenarios?

  • The 15-Minute City, community and sustainability: led by senior associate, Simon Thornton
  • Levelled Up City, fairness and diversity: led by project surveyor, Clare O’Malley
  • City Mega-Capital, investment, connectivity and growth: led by associate, Emily Wiltshire
  • Safety First City, accessibility, health, security and resilience: led by associate director, Emma Scott Miller
  • Citipendence, liberty, democracy, public services: led by partner, Rob Lyons

The 'Future Cities' initiative will continue to explore key topics that will go on to affect the nextgen as our future city leaders. Keep your eyes peeled for updates.

If you would like to find out more about G&T's NextGen programme and how you can get involved head to our NextGen Hub.

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