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Mayor tells planners and developers to put culture at the forefront of city development

Date uploaded: November 11, 2015

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson has called on developers, planners, local authorities and others responsible for the planning and design of the capital to put culture and creativity at the forefront of their thinking about developments in the city.

The Mayor's comments come amidst increasing fears that artists and creative talent are being squeezed out, because they find studios and workspaces unaffordable and London increasingly expensive to live in. The Mayor has now published 'An A-Z of planning and culture', which, for the first time, outlines the practical steps that can be taken to integrate and protect culture and even support new cultural activity in developments.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: 'As London continues to grow and prosper, there is a critical need to build more homes for Londoners, but this should not be at the expense of our culture and distinctiveness, which are hugely important for our economy. There are good examples of developers and planners incorporating culture into their regeneration schemes, including Olympicopolis, London City Island, the City and Nine Elms. We want more of them to be talking to, even working with cultural bosses, artists and other creatives at the start of projects and recognise the value of culture, not just to our city's quality of life, but to the success of their developments.'

Four out of five people say that culture is main reason that they go to London, which is known around the world for its vibrant creativity and character, from music to the visual arts and its theatre to its nightlife. The creative industries are estimated to be worth £35 billion annually, whilst cultural tourists spent £7.5 billion in 2013, underlining the importance of these sectors to the economy.

Developers now realise the huge economic value to new developments that an anchor or cluster of cultural activity and facilities can bring to ever changing and growing areas of the city, making London's new places vibrant dynamic neighbourhoods, such as an expanded and relocated college and new cultural businesses at the heart of the Elephant & Castle shopping centre regeneration.

Yet there are mounting concerns about London losing artist studios, music venues, pubs, theatres and other cultural spaces. The capital is set to lose 3,500 artist studios in the next five years*, a third of the capital's creative workspace, whilst a third of grassroots live music venues have disappeared since 2007.

The urgent need for housing and the impact of commercial and business redevelopment, combined with other factors such as local planning issues, licensing rules and rising business rates are contributing to the loss of creative workspaces and cultural venues that are a key part of London's attractiveness as a place to live and work in and to visit.

To read more click here or to download 'An A-Z of Planning and Culture' go to https://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/arts-culture