29 April 2021

The target was announced as part of a new report published by the City of London Corporation, which sets out how London’s Square Mile will adapt to “post-pandemic economic and social trends”.

It states the corporation will “explore new ways to use vacant space and aim for at least 1,500 residential units by 2030”.

In addition, the corporation said it will provide new public spaces for culture and exercise, as well as accelerating plans to make the city more accessible for walking and cycling.

It comes as cities across the UK attempt to adapt to new trends accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, including an increase in home-working and the move away from urban centres.

Catherine McGuinness, chair of the policy and resources committee at the City of London Corporation, said: “We have been listening to businesses of all sizes in the city to understand how the pandemic has affected their ways of working and their needs going forward. Firms have told us that they remain committed to retaining a central London hub but how they operate will inevitably change to reflect post-pandemic trends, such as hybrid and flexible working.

“The Square Mile must evolve in order to provide an ecosystem that remains attractive to workers, visitors, learners and residents. This will involve encouraging growth, fostering talent from all backgrounds, providing a vibrant leisure offer and offering outstanding environments.

“Inclusion, innovation and sustainability should be at the core of the future city. We remain confident that the Square Mile will return to its usual buzz and vibrancy by building on these pillars.”

In recent years the government has made it increasingly easier for developers to convert empty office buildings and shops into residential units through the expansion of permitted development rights, which allow developers to bypass the usual planning system.

Last year retail giant John Lewis announced plans to convert its empty shop buildings into “mixed-use affordable housing”.

Source: Inside Housing