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Boris tells planners & developers to put culture first for city development





The Mayor of London Boris Johnson today called on developers, planners, local authorities and others responsible for the planning and design of the capital to put culture and creativity at the forefront of their thinking about developments in the city.

The Mayor's comments come amidst increasing fears that artists and creative talent are being squeezed out, because they find studios and workspaces unaffordable and London increasingly expensive to live in. The Mayor has now published 'An A-Z of planning and culture', which, for the first time, outlines the practical steps that can be taken to integrate and protect culture and even support new cultural activity in developments.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: 'As London continues to grow and prosper, there is a critical need to build more homes for Londoners, but this should not be at the expense of our culture and distinctiveness, which are hugely important for our economy. There are good examples of developers and planners incorporating culture into their regeneration schemes, including Olympicopolis, London City Island, the City and Nine Elms. We want more of them to be talking to, even working with cultural bosses, artists and other creatives at the start of projects and recognise the value of culture, not just to our city's quality of life, but to the success of their developments.'

Four out of five people say that culture is main reason that they come to London, which is known around the world for its vibrant creativity and character, from music to the visual arts and its theatre to its nightlife. The creative industries are estimated to be worth £35 billion annually, whilst cultural tourists spent £7.5 billion in 2013, underlining the importance of these sectors to the economy.*

Developers now realise the huge economic value to new developments that an anchor or cluster of cultural activity and facilities can bring to ever changing and growing areas of the city, making London's new places vibrant dynamic neighbourhoods, such as an expanded and relocated college and new cultural businesses at the heart of the Elephant & Castle shopping centre regeneration.

Yet there are mounting concerns about London losing artist studios, music venues, pubs, theatres and other cultural spaces. The capital is set to lose 3,500 artist studios in the next five years*, a third of the capital's creative workspace, whilst a third of grassroots live music venues have disappeared since 2007.

The urgent need for housing and the impact of commercial and business redevelopment, combined with other factors such as local planning issues, licensing rules and rising business rates are contributing to the loss of creative workspaces and cultural venues that are a key part of London's attractiveness as a place to live and work in and to visit.

The Mayor already backs a range of initiatives to support the capital's cultural and creative sectors, such as the Agent of Change principle, a rescue plan for music venues and using the London Plan to ensure boroughs take a pro-culture approach to planning.

He has also actively encouraged organisations to bid for regeneration funding, such as through the London Enterprise Panel's Growing Places Fund and London Regeneration Fund. Support includes the SPACE studios project on Mare Street in Hackney, which received funding from the Mayor's Spacehive campaign; funding from the Mayor's High Street Fund for Create and Bow Arts, which are reopening The Old Manor Park Library in Newham as a public workshop space for artists, creative businesses and the community; the Green Rooms Arts Hotel project in Haringey, which will provide affordable accommodation for visiting artists, has also received funding from the High Street Fund.

The Mayor's new guide, 'An A-Z of Planning and Culture', is aimed at the people and organisations shaping London's future, including councils, developers, planners, community groups and cultural bodies. It provides examples of good practice, where culture is being included in developments and gives information about what developers, planners and community groups can already do, using existing frameworks, such as Section 106 agreements and turning venues into Assets of Community Value. The Mayor will publish a new report in 2016 specifically looking at new models of funding for artist studios.


To coincide with the publication of the guide, around 250 developers, planners and cultural leaders where at  City Hall  on (Monday 26 October), for th high level summit looking at how to ensure culture can be protected and placed at the heart of London's future development.

Next month, senior leaders from thirty global cities will convene in London for the World Cities Culture Summit to address the urgent challenge of ensuring culture is at the heart of urban development.

1. Four out of five people say that culture is main reason that they come to London, which is known around the world for its vibrant creativity and character, from music to the visual arts and its theatre to its nightlife. The creative industries are estimated to be worth £35 billion annually, whilst cultural tourists spent £7.5 billion in 2013, underlining the importance of these sectors to the economy

2. The Mayor is supporting a range of measure to protect London's grassroots music venues, following the publication of a Rescue Plan by his Music Venues Taskforce.

3. London is hosting the fourth World Cities Culture Summit on 18-20 November. Cultural leaders and senior city officials from 32 cities around the world head high level talks aimed at sharing experience and expertise and formulating long-term policies that put culture at the heart of future city planning and development. Cities include: Amsterdam, Austin, Brussels, Buenos Aires, Dubai, Edinburgh, Hong Kong, Istanbul, London, Los Angeles, Melbourne, New York City, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Rome, San Francisco, Seoul, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Stockholm, Sydney, Taipei, Tokyo, Toronto, Vienna and Warsaw. www.worldcitiescultureforum.com 

4. The £20m London Regeneration Fund aims to re-energise the capital's high streets by embracing the city's incredible talent for creativity and technological innovation. It gives local authorities, traders' associations, workspace providers, and community groups the chance to come forward with exciting proposals that will help new and traditional places of work thrive in a rapidly changing city. It was launched in July by the Mayor through the London Enterprise Panel following a successful bid to Government in January 2015 as part of the LEP's Growth Deal. The Fund forms part of the LEP's work to champion small and medium sized enterprises and builds on the Mayor's longstanding belief that London's high streets are great places to visit, live in and do business in. 

5. The Mayor of London's £9m High Street Fund aims to make the capital's high streets even better places to visit, live in and do business in. Grants awarded in March are now being invested in 42 high streets. The investment has levered around £20m of match funding from local authorities and private sector partners, with £3.42m specifically for culture related activities. The fund is part of the Mayor's overall £129 million investment in high streets that has already helped 56 high streets across London and attracted £56 million of match funding from public and private sector partners.

6. The London Enterprise Panel (LEP) is the local enterprise partnership for London. Chaired by Mayor of London Boris Johnson, the LEP is the body through which the Mayoralty works with London's boroughs, business and Transport for London to take a strategic view of the regeneration, employment and skills agenda for London. The LEP is responsible for overseeing the allocation of over £400m of funding to drive jobs and growth in the capital and provides strategic oversight of London's €1.5 billion European Structural & Investment Funds programme. https://lep.london




Last week A new masterplan was unveiled that will see 200,000 new homes built in the east of London, adding to a number of major developments already taking place in the area.

BJ said that it is designed to bring together a vast number of major developments that are already taking place in the capital, known as designated Opportunity Areas, which have been identified as London's major source of brownfield land with significant capacity for new housing, commercial space and other development.

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