DINNER FOR THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT 2013 – “All change please!”

The focus of The Annual Dinner for the Built Environment in 2013 was Europe’s largest construction project Crossrail, and in conjunction with our sponsor Kier we  proudly received two of the most influential people involved in the scheme today. Firstly we welcomed Andrew Mitchell, Programme Director for Crossrail who lead a panel discussion on how the industry at large can benefit from Crossrail. Secondly, we welcomed our principle guest and speaker Andrew Wolstenholme OBE, CEO of Crossrail, who gave us an insightful view of the vision, impact, and legacy of this innovative project.

Change in large cities such as London occurs for many different reasons and in many different ways, each with varying degrees of control, predictability and of course, success. For instance:

– Change in cities can be stimulated by its people; such as the community-led Brixton Village Market regeneration, for example.

– Change in cities can be stimulated by its buildings; through an iconic, aspirational image such as the Shard for London Bridge and areas to the south beyond Guy’s Hospital.

– Change in cities can also be stimulated by its infrastructure; through the way people connect with and move around a city such as Crossrail.

In terms of change, Large-scale infrastructural developments like Crossrail fundamentally provide cities with space to respond to change; they expand the focus of development, they give cities room to breathe, and they give its people time to settle.

Jane Jacobs the great author on urban renewal famously said “There is no logic that can be superimposed on the city; people make it, and it is to them, not buildings, that we must fit our plans.”

Now where people go, business follows, that won’t change, and this is why Crossrail is such an important project, because it will afford London manageable growth over a long period of time. And if Crossrail achieves it’s potential, it will ultimately enhance our economy, our environment and our experience of our Great City of London.

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