We were pleased to host our annual party conference dinner debates this year with London Communications Agency. This time the dinner debates served as launch events for Opportunity London, a new initiative promoting sustainable investment into real estate, regeneration and green infrastructure across London’s boroughs. Opportunity London is supported by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, London Councils, the City Corporation and a number of London's Business Improvement Districts and property developers.
The dinners were as always very well attended by an eclectic mix of local and central government, property developers and thought leaders. We were delighted to have Mayor of London Sadiq Khan attend the dinner at the Labour party conference. We were also particularly grateful to London Minister, Paul Scully MP for finding the time to join us on what was a very busy night for him at the Conservative party conference. As he also holds portfolios for both local government and building safety, his voice was an important addition to this event.
A key theme of the dinner debates was that collaboration across the political spectrum will be key to making the Opportunity London initiative work. In her address to the dinner at the Conservative party conference, Councillor Elizabeth Campbell, Leader of Kensington and Chelsea and Lead for Business, Economy and Culture at London Councils, confirmed that the London Councils will collaborate with the Mayor and the private sector to promote London investment. London Minister, Paul Scully MP referred to London's resilience and confirmed that he wants to work with the Mayor to promote London and shape change.
Regeneration lessons from London's history
While at the Conservative party conference, I met with a number of ministers in my role as a board member of the Central District Alliance BID.
I also joined an interesting fringe panel event featuring Lord Michael Heseltine, a man with much political experience. As he pointed out, Winston Churchill was the leader when he joined the Conservative party. Now, at the age of 90, Heseltine still commands the room, which was packed to the rafters with serried ranks of press in attendance. Although the event was primarily about Europe, there were some useful observations about regeneration. After all, the regeneration of London's docklands and the creation of Canary Wharf was orchestrated by the London Docklands Development Corporation, established in 1981 by Heseltine, the Conservative government’s then environment secretary. He talked to us about the excitement of seeing the public and private sector working together. In relation to the Government's newly announced investment zones, Heseltine commented that these were 'nothing new'. "We created development corporations" he said. "If you want them to succeed you need planning, leadership and land acquisition powers." He also pointed out that there are no short term miracles to growth and that the London Docklands Development Corporation took time.