Today, 55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 68% by 2050 [UN].
The continuing growth of urban populations calls for an equitable approach to development that optimises land resources for societal benefit is now an economic imperative, and a moral one too.
Short-term development deals and poor urban planning is costly to society and social mobility. The coronavirus pandemic has shown even more that the places we live, work and play have a major impact on our collective wellbeing, quality of life and access to opportunity.
Regeneration and development have become dirty words for many. Often associated with needless and inappropriate development epitomised by rotten deals that jeopardise the livelihoods of local residents and the flogging off public assets and council owned social housing to be replaced with unaffordable luxury flats leading to thousands of people being kicked out of their homes.
We need to re-think urban planning, investment and finance in the context of long-term decline in public funding (that continues to diminish) and an increase in the role of the private sector.
Will greed be replaced by the prioritisation of greater good? How can development become decent? What has Covid 19 taught us about the importance of the built environment and what we must improve for the future?