Most cities across the world are experiencing a growth population as more people migrate towards urban areas. This puts a lot of pressure on city administrations to make sure there is enough supply of key infrastructure, housing, transport, hospital, schools etc, to meet the rising demand. Often it is difficult for cities to react to population growth as it can happen very quickly, but building new infrastructure is not quick and takes years of planning.
London has come up with a scheme that they hope will remedy the problem, they have analysed the city and identified 38 opportunity areas that are now the focus of future development and regeneration. A lot of these areas are brownfield sites that are currently not being utilised to their full potential. Brownfield means areas that have been developed in the past, but have fallen into disrepair. A lot of these areas will have been developed for industry, but as industry left the city and London diversified towards a service based economy they have been left unoccupied.
Taking a look at the map of the opportunity areas you can see that they are dotted all around the city, but a large number of them are in East London which has for quite a number of years lagged behind the rest of city in terms of growth and development. The 2012 Olympic Games development has started to change that with now some of fastest growing and trendiest areas now being in the east of the city. There is still a lot of be done though and having highlighted the opportunity areas London is positioning itself to be able to continue to grow as more people move to the city.
One of the biggest problems in the city is the cost of housing, both to buy and rent, so we would hope that the opportunity areas are utilised in order to build more affordable and social housing (not only million pound+ houses and flats) that the city needs in order to meet its current challenges.
From a smart perspective the new development areas offer the city the opportunity to set a standard for sustainable growth, utilising the technology that is available at this time to make them as close to carbon neutral as possible would be a great start.
City hall is working closely with the Boroughs of London to encourage regeneration of the opportunity areas, it will be interesting to see how this plan develops over the coming years.
It looks like a great opportunity, but will they grab it with both hands to make these areas super smart and sustainable?
We will have to wait and see for the answer to that one!