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  • Writer's pictureSimon Deen

The 15 minute city

This week's blog has been inspired by two things. Firstly, a conversation with Stanhope PLC’s Sales and Marketing Director, Peter Allen. Secondly, reading Mike Stiff’s (of award winning architecture practice Stiff & Trevillion) blog.

I have worked with both Peter and Mike on several residential projects over the years, and they always have something interesting to say.

I still find it incredible how much the world has changed over the past 12 months. Yet to look at it now, how much of that change seems very overdue?

People’s wants and desires on almost every level have been shifted. We have realised more than ever the importance of the people we surround ourselves with, because we’ve been stuck at home with them for months on end.

We’ve also realised how much time we wasted travelling for work, and not just on an aeroplane. People will think twice about getting on a hot, sweaty tube in the middle of summer to travel across London for a one hour meeting. “Let’s do it on Zoom instead”. Perhaps corporations will repurpose the capital set aside for bloated expense accounts and devote them to better causes instead.

We’ve also learned about the things that we can, and definitely can’t live without. Incredibly, we (me included) have had to experience a pandemic to understand that we won’t get very far as a country without teachers, nurses or delivery drivers.

Moving back to property, according to research by PWC, in 2021 London’s population is set to fall by 300,000, the first time it’s declined since 1988. An August 2020 survey by the London Assembly found that a further 416,000 people (4.5% of Londoners) said that they would definitely move out of the City in the next 12 months. A rural life supported by super fast internet connectivity and at some point, a super fast train network is now on the horizon for many more people.

For those that remain in London, expectations of what both a home and a neighbourhood offers will be higher than ever before. The property buzz phrase of 2021 is ‘the 15 minute City’, where access to everything essential can be reached in this time frame.

Residential developers, previously focused on the amount of saleable square footage, are already re-thinking strategies. New developments will need to offer green spaces, co-working facilities and a range of essential shops and services in addition to homes which benefit from both private outside space and enough room to comfortably work from home.

One of the best examples of this in London is Television Centre. Here, residents have access to everything from a Michelin Starred Japanese restaurant to a private members club, co-working spaces, green areas and of course, the BBC television studios. Being opposite a tube station and providing easy access to the M40 allows the flexibility to travel into London, but also the countryside. In many ways, it’s the perfect London home, and perhaps the perfect home for a post-pandemic world too

Things I’ve been paying attention to, watching or reading this week

Jeff Bezos’s announcement that he’s stepping down as Amazon’s CEO after an incredible 27 years at the helm prompted me to revisit their leadership principles and every Amazon shareholder letter between 1997 and 2017.

The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read is something I wish I’d have read 8 years ago and definitely at the start of the pandemic, not towards the end.

“Saying no to unreasonable people may mean that you miss out on opportunities. It also means that you save yourself a lot of aggravation”

If you (like me) need a corporate lawyer who also gives good life advice, look no further.


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