The yearly review

23 December 2020

This year to reflect the tough times many have been through, we have decided our Christmas charity donation will be to Mind. Now, more than ever, is the time to look after ourselves and others.

Helen Cuthbert Director London

I’ve been asked to do a round-up of the year; crumbs, where to start! 

We expected the year to lead to some changes to planning legislation with the long-awaited white paper. However, no one predicted quite how dramatic the year would be. It will be interesting to see what effect the impacts of the pandemic on work, leisure, shopping, and home environments will have on our land use planning system. But, rather than looking backwards I have decided to try and do a few predictions. 

I think the 15-minute neighbourhood is a concept that is here to stay. It builds on the need to stay local and avoid a long commute, which frankly now seems very last century! When we don’t need to be in the office on a daily basis, we can work more efficiently at home, and shop and have our leisure experiences more locally. 

It can also go a long way to help our struggling high streets, which will become much more of a place for experiences. With leisure, gyms, beauty and restaurants, hopefully supported by an increase in town centre populationsthe high street could once again become a destination. 

I also sincerely hope that the push for more cycle infrastructure is here to stay. As a new cycling enthusiast, I was appalled to see how poor some of the early Cycle Superhighways actually were in real life – the label is so wrong! Conversely some of the recent cycling infrastructure, such as in Enfield, is excellent. 

How much we return to normal once the vaccine is rolled out and we are allowed back into offices will be fascinating. My view is that we will have much more flexible working arrangements, which can only be a good thing, and the office will become more of a meeting hub, rather than rows of desks where we work. This is likely to lead to a reduction in office floorspace and more office to residential conversions. 

On housing, the need for external space and home offices have become more important. Where open-plan living was once the ‘in thing’, I think we’re going to see greater demand for more demarcated spaces – something housebuilders will no doubt already be thinking about. I also think the housing market will remain buoyant, as people who have spent so long at home this year look to move or improve. 

So, all in all – I think there are positives to be had from the dreadful year we have endured. It has sped up some trends that were already well in train, such as online shopping, but allows for opportunities to re-invigorate neighbourhoods, provide a greater emphasis on healthy placesand that always elusive work-life balance. 

This year, to reflect the tough times many have been through, we have decided our Christmas charity donation will be to mental health charity Mind. Now, more than ever, is the time to look after ourselves and others. Wishing everyone a good break at Christmas and a much better 2021. 

If you would like to donate to Mind, you can do so here.