Welcome to Future Cities Forum providing high quality thought leadership events, discussions and reports  on best practice for the regeneration of cities. Forum members are able to profile their expertise and network for new business opportunities. Keep checking this page for updates on our newest forums and details of all of our previous events. 

Please note due to the escalating pandemic - Covid 19, we will now be running conferences online and publishing reports and content from these will be displayed on our website in the usual format. As soon as the UK government advises, we will return to events held in venues. 

The Future Cities Forum debates the latest urban investment, regeneration, planning and design issues around the world, bringing together city leaders, councils, long-term investors, developers, planners, infrastructure operators, construction companies, technology innovators, cultural organisations, architects and engineers.

Over 300 organisations have contributed across nineteen forums to date and include: Tate Modern, the V&A, Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, Aviva Investors, Grimshaw, M & G Real Estate, Laing O' Rourke, Oxford City Council, Deloitte, Arup, CEG, Peabody, Transport for London, Liverpool City Council, London Borough of Newham, Hepworth Wakefield, Birmingham City Council, PwC, Cushman & Wakefield, Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, The National Infrastructure Commission, Imperial College London and Zaha Hadid Architects.

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This week Future Cities Forum will be holding its 'Science Cities ll' discussion event on 7th October to debate the best ways of supporting the planning, development and design of the UK's knowledge clusters. It will have contributions from - among others - Stephen Dance, Director of the Commercial Adviser Team at the Infrastructure & Projects Authority, Professor Lynette Ryals, Chief Executive of MK:U - the new Milton Keynes University - and Dr John Williams, Managing Director of Birmingham Health Partners.

Future Cities Forum No. 19: Infrastructure 2020

11 February 2020, 9 am to 2pm

Venue: Herbert Smith Freehills

Exchange House, Primrose Street, London, EC2A 2EG





We begin a new year of Future Cities Forum infrastructure, transport and housing development discussions in 2020, having left the EU and with a government committed to infrastructure investment. How will our economy develop post Brexit? New connections will be forged around the world for trade and the UK economy will be looking to current and future infrastructure to connect our cities, develop new communities and attract foreign investment.


The UK government has begun a new drive on infrastructure. In the Queen’s speech, it pledged a revamped national infrastructure strategy designed to help support growth across the UK, as well as an aviation bill and proposals for rail reform. A long-term vision has been laid out to improve the nation’s digital, transport and energy infrastructure.


Our first infrastructure forum of 2020 will be held at leading international law firm Herbert Smith Freehills' London offices near Liverpool Street Station on 11th February. There will be three panel discussions, two workshops, coffee on arrival and lunch to complete the morning's networking. Those participants contributing to our discussions will be publicised through our on-line communications programme, research will be gathered and published from our round table workshops and a report will be compiled to summarise key findings for government, investors and city leadership.




9 am Coffee and networking


9.30 am Key speaker address : Dyan Crowther, CEO HS1


9.45 am Panel 1 – How do we build the UK economy through future infrastructure investment?


10.15 am Panel 2 – How do we use infrastructure investment as a catalyst for town and city centre regeneration and where should we put the design and development focus for long term sustainability?


10.45 am Workshop 1: Planning case study - Peterborough city regeneration 


How do we achieve the best balance between residential, workspace and retail development in our historic city centres?


11.15 am Panel 3 – How does national planning need to evolve to incorporate future innovations in transport mobility, technology and the move to low carbon energy? 


11.45 am Workshop 2: Planning case study - North Essex Garden Communities


How can we re-design towns for sustainable transport and mobility, low carbon energy and make our infrastructure 'smarter'? 


12.15 pm Feedback and conclusions


12.30 pm Lunch


1.15 pm Close



Questions to be posed at the forum:


What direction should the UK government’s drive on infrastructure be taking in 2020?


Is there evidence that the current UK road infrastructure programme is working and genuinely making for better connections between UK cities?


Will the economy of the north of England stall under any re-direction of rail investment and will attention be focussed on rail infrastructure that connects us back to Europe?


How can a balance be struck between creating airport expansion to encourage foreign trade and protecting UK citizens’ rights against noise and air pollution?


How does the UK government’s policies on expanded infrastructure tie in with a drive to combat climate change?


What changes are needed to national policy to support the delivery of significant new settlements (10,000 + homes)?


How are local authorities coping with devolved responsibilities in tackling climate change, especially on energy and transport?


Will the National Infrastructure Commission manage to change policy for energy regulators to insist on long-term energy and digital infrastructure investment?



Join us for a morning of exciting debate and important networking.



Science cities: investment, innovation, infrastructure and talent attraction

20 November 2019

9 am to 1 pm

University of Cambridge: Newnham College (Dorothy Garrod Building), Sidgwick Avenue, CB3 9DF





Our science and health forum will be held at Newnham College Cambridge on 20th November 2019 where we will be discussing the best approaches to creating knowledge hubs and clusters within cities that are both economically and socially successful - and very importantly are well designed, especially in urban settings. We will also be looking at tackling health issues in cities and will showcase innovation in medical care. We will consider the following questions:


  1. With the interest in the growth of science hubs, how do cities accommodate incoming talent with transport and housing needs?

  2. How can we ensure world class collaboration in the development of our science, healthcare and technology hubs?

  3. How does the growth of knowledge hubs shape a city’s architecture and planning?

  4. What are the discussions that councils need to have with developers and urban infrastructure experts to protect cities and plan future needs?

  5. How do we plan for disease control in city populations and cyber-attacks to our healthcare systems?

  6. How will Brexit affect the science brain drain and the influx of medicines to cities?

  7. How can arts and sciences combine to build the strength of a city’s identity and sustainable culture?


These are some of the questions that we will be asking in our forum panel discussions and through our workshop round table exercise.


The making of the modern city II: infrastructure-led regeneration

26 June 2019

9 am to 1 pm

City Hall, The Queen’s Walk, London SE1 2AA






We will be back at City Hall, London on 26th June this year to run our regeneration, planning, transport and energy conference. This will be an important year for the UK in terms of developing vital infrastructure for economic advancement and social cohesion, providing joined up housing with appropriate infrastructure that avoids leaving communities isolated, and harnessing the benefits of green energy.

The National Infrastructure Commission has recently announced (7th May 2019) that excellence in design will be the ‘beating heart’ of all new UK infrastructure. This announcement has come from Professor Sadie Morgan, Stirling Prize Winner and NIC Commissioner who says the new influential Design Group, which will lobby to ensure that design is considered at the outset of every major project, and at every stage of delivery to make the most of our infrastructure without increasing costs.

The NIC stated that its ‘first ‘National Infrastructure Assessment, published last year, set out the benefits of effective design, highlighting how embedding it into the culture of planning and delivery leads to an outcome that both works well and looks good, enhancing the quality of life for the communities who experience it every day.’

Sadie spoke at our November forum in one of the original factory buildings of Woolwich Arsenal, set for major redevelopment into housing and a new cultural hub, about the importance of joined-up infrastructure and regeneration. This June, Head of Policy, Katie Black, will further this dialogue, and bring into the debate, the latest thinking on energy and climate change, illuminating how this is set to impact our cities’ environment.

This filmed forum will gather investors, developers, professional advisers, architects, city and transport planners along with government and city councils into one research event with the outcomes written up in a white paper. The panel discussions will be facilitated and professionally recorded.


Forum timings


0830  Networking / coffee

0900  Infrastructure and innovation 2019

Opening remarks: Stephen Dance, Delivery Director, Infrastructure Projects Authority

0920  Panel discussion:  Infrastructure and transport – completing the UK’s major projects and transforming mobility.

1000  Panel discussion: how can cities best prepare for new energy infrastructure to meet climate change goals?

1045  Research round-tables and networking

1115  Panel discussion: cultural infrastructure – how will City Hall’s map change the economic and psychological well-being of the capital?

1200  Panel discussion: future housing infrastructure – should we focus on inner city development or invest in garden communities and new towns?

Future Cities Forum 12

‘Healthy Cities’

9 am to 12 noon, 30th January 2019

Apothecaries’ Hall, Blackfriars Lane, London EC4V 6EJ



Back in April this year, the world-renowned medical journal, The Lancet and one of China’s most prestigious universities, Tsinghua, jointly published a report on building healthy cities in China, ‘Healthy Cities: Unlocking the Power of Cities for a Healthy China’.

‘By 2030, China’s cities will house close to a billion people and the mass mobilization has also created unprecedented health challenges, such as pollution and social inequality’, the report states.

Ignored until recently, the Healthy China 2030 plan has now highlighted and recognized health as the centrepiece of sustainable development.

Our January forum will look at city planning and place-making for well-being and resilience, the development and design of science research hubs, the urban integration of sport and exercise for a healthy population, the evolution of well-designed city public transport and the new ‘NHS towns’ in the UK, as well as how the current housing crisis is affecting health.

Our previous healthy cities forum had leaders speaking from the Design Council, Chelsea & Westminster Hospital NHS Trust, Plymouth University, Peabody, Transport for London, EY, the Royal College of Physicians, PwC and The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.



Panel 1                      Healthy and sustainable cities

This panel sets out the current inequalities in health in our cities, the future needs of our urban population and how our built environment enhances or hinders our health.


Panel 2                      Transport, infrastructure, pollution and climate

Discussion will centre around climate research, joined-up infrastructure, pollution and electric vehicle introduction, last-mile deliveries.


Panel 3                      Planning and place-making

Contributors will debate how we plan for healthier cities, place-making for multi-generational living and mental wellbeing, walkable cities and how transport and our road system affects our future world.


Panel 4                      Technology and health

What will the science and technology innovations that will change our future health provision and how will our cities look and feel different with new types of healthcare centres, hospitals, wellness clinics and university research centres?


Future Cities Forum 13

‘The Great North’

27th February 2019 from 9 am to 1230 pm

RIBA North, Liverpool, L3 1BP


Future Cities Forum will be running an event in February at RIBA North to look at infrastructure investment, transport innovation, jobs generation through the knowledge economy, as well as and art, culture and sports-led regeneration in major Northern cities.  The prospects for affordable housing supply, linked to jobs and infrastructure, will be discussed in the light of government house building targets. The speakers and audience will be made up of a balance of city council directors, developers, cultural leaders and sports club chief executives from London, the Midlands and Northern England. Written and video content will be posted on Future Cities Forum web site.


Panel discussions will be arranged around:

Infrastructure and smart transport

Health sciences and the knowledge economy

Sports-led regeneration

Arts and culture for communities and tourism

Housing and jobs in the North

Future Cities Forum 10: City regeneration and place-making

Future Cities Forum is producing two large events this autumn. The first is on 10th October in West London at White City and will look at the UK government’s reaction to and support of the housing crisis, a strategy for joined-up infrastructure, transport and place-making. The provision of new retail concepts will also feature, place-making around sports stadiums and major rail stations, as will a discussion about the impact of modern methods of construction.

Rachel Fisher, Deputy Director of Regeneration and Infrastructure at The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, will be making the opening presentation at our forum ‘City Regeneration and Place-making’. She has written a guest blog for our forum on how to support the modern high street as well as how to improve productivity across the Camkox corridor. This link between housing and first class transport infrastructure was discussed at our previous City Hall, London forum last May with the Chief Executive of the National Infrastructure Commission, Phil Graham.

The role of railway lines and stations will feature at the forum because of the importance for joined up housing and infrastructure, along with how our retail can develop at these important junctions and termini. Retail is becoming essential to station development and for the Japanese this has spurred the idea of creating ‘my third place’ between home and ‘somewhere public’. Atkins, part of SNC-Lavalin Group will be speaking about master planning for new high-speed rail stations, so they become a properly integrated asset for city communities and a catalyst for regeneration.

Sports stadiums are not only central to the life of many communities, but they can also act as as a tourist draw. We will be looking at innovation in stadium design and how adjacent districts can benefit from intelligent regeneration to create new housing, education hubs and activity throughout the year.

We will be asking whether ‘culture’ can be created from scratch in order to give places definition and how will this develop in new towns and cities, particularly across regional housing strategies and around airports?

Future Cities Forum 11: Art, exports and emerging cultural districts

Our second event involves Brocket Gallery. Based in South London, which has invited us to run filmed discussions on the theme of new cultural quarters at the Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair to be held in November at the former Royal Arsenal in the London Borough of Greenwich. Famous names such as Tracy Emin and Grayson Perry as well as the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers will be exhibiting in this the third year of the print fair.

The fair is a member of the Creative Industries Federation and a founding partner of the Woolwich Creative District (London). Greenwich Council is creating areas for concerts and open-air art/drama displays in and around the historic buildings where from the 18th century military cadets were trained. Some of the arsenal stores and factories where weapons were manufactured during the two world wars remain and Berkeley has been building new homes on the site.

Since launching our forum, we have been looking at the growth of creative districts in London, the UK and in Europe, debating the social and economic impacts. Brocket Gallery following our event last January at RIBA, during which the Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Art spoke on the topic of the sustainability of creative districts, has been awarded funding by the famous art institution and admits that this has been a game-changer.

In November speakers will debate the need for the careful planning of creative districts, the elements that go to support local communities and allow for developments to flourish. Art exports post Brexit will also be discussed in reference to the UK government’s announcement that Britain should strive to be a ‘21st Century exporting superpower with a rise in exports from 30% to 35% as a proportion of UK GDP.

Future Cities Forum 9:

Intelligent Cities

3rd July 2018,

Westworks, White City Place, W12 7TU

10 am to 12.30 pm




This event will be our 9th Future Cities Forum and will gather together councils, architects, planners, developers and investors in a morning of debate with panel discussions and individual presentations.

It will be held at White City Place, London, W12 – the home to a growing group of media and creative businesses including the BBC, ITV, Yoox, Net A Porter as well as being a new campus for Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art. It has some of the newest flexible work spaces in the UK designed by Allies and Morrison. Stanhope PLC has been developing White City Place since 2015 – along with partners Mitsui Fudosan and AIMCo – adding to its long-term commitment and investment through its Television Centre project into the transformation of this West London hub. Berkeley Group – though its St James subsidiary – is developing a 10-acre brownfield site next to Television Centre into a new residential neighbourhood with 1,465 homes. It will have a new public park and attractive public realm linking through historic railway arches to the south to Westfield London.

At the White City Place forum we will be looking at the future of new model office workspace and creative hubs mixed with restaurants – and homes and leisure provision. The blue-print for successful place-making from city regeneration sites will underpin the discussions.


We will be asking some of the following questions:


How should we design homes and neighbourhoods given future ways of living and working and the dramatic changes in modes of transport?

How can  data analytics be deployed to transform planning, environmental health and transport withincities?

Is London still able to create successful new areas for knowledge hubs? How important is new residential provision for these projects?

Is there an ideal model for community engagement, and private / public collaboration on new neighbourhood creation?

Does Brexit threaten the London office market and the growth of flexible working?

Are UK regional cities going to provide most of the investment opportunities for the long-term?

How do we integrate planning around industrial land use with housing and transport development?





The following research that informs our White City Place forum covers regeneration topics including workspace and housing, transport and new technology influencing neighbourhood planning.



Creating new neighbourhoods from brownfield sites

There are over 60,000 hectares of brown field land in England, lying alongside some of the most deprived communities in the country. Savills has estimated that approximately 22,000 hectares of this land remains in use. It has also said that much of the bank of brownfield land is in the north west of the country and in East Yorkshire where demand is low.

However, with house-building targets increasing, stasis on discussions on releasing green-belt for construction, brown-field regeneration remains a major policy driver. Progress has been hampered by policy and practice staying in ‘silos’ but there are examples of developers, councils and infrastructure owners collaborating effectively to transform under-used but excellently located land to create new neighbourhoods and work / leisure hubs.

Cardiff Council has been helping to progress the master-planning of the S A Brain brewery site by the River Taff into Central Quay, a three million square feet of waterfront leisure zone with new hotels, shops and offices. This builds on the investment in Cardiff Central Square which has created a public-sector hub in new buildings for the BBC, University of Cardiff and HMRC with expansive public realm. These two developments sit either side of Cardiff’s main station. Another historic brewer, Guinness, is releasing much of the famous St James’ Gate brewery site for development in to homes, retail and offices.

In West London Berkeley Homes, Stanhope and Mitsui Fudosan have put ‘place-making’ at the core of their regeneration of the warehouse, railway land and former BBC sites around White City and Wood Lane. 


According to the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, the local authority overseeing the developments: “It’s not just about building new homes and offices – the creation of new open spaces for the community and improving cycling and pedestrian links to overcome physical barriers is very important.”



The role of data in transforming how we live in cities

The Mayor of London’s office is making ‘data’ a key part of the Mayor’s Smart London Plan. It states

 ‘in the London of the future, it will pour off people, buildings and vehicles, its capacity to deliver insight and value to change the way the city, communities and services work is only now starting to be properly realised….The GLA’s job is to first ensure that the supply and exploitation of city data supports this environment and second, make sure that it is communicating how it wishes to see city data used to generate social, economic and environmental value.’


‘Bodies like TfL have achieved world renown for their commitment to free, open data by default. Over 30 data sets, including real-time travel feeds, are already available to developers via the TfL web site and the GLA London Datastore.’


‘The identification of data as an important future resource for this city in the London Infrastructure Plan is a signal that we need to chart a course now to the active use of data in the smart city.

GLA asks ‘ How would a community organise itself around a community energy project, driven by individual and collective data?


The architects’ view

RIBA and ARUP have written a paper, ‘Designing with data: Shaping our future cities’ identifying approaches to working with data for architects, urban designers and planners:

‘using data to help designers meet users’ needs, experimentation and modelling using data, analysing data to improve local and national policy making and implementation and using data to improve transparency to speed up development processes….benefits (of data) must be captured to deliver urban areas that develop more sustainably and operate more efficiently.’

The report goes on to make recommendations to government on data collection and analysis, preventing data duplication and help identify gaps in data provision:

‘digitising all information submitted for planning and making this data available to the public could unleash economic growth and help local authorities better inform their local planning strategies.’


Industrial space in a denser city

SEGRO, the leading owner and developer of modern warehousing, has been arguing for a London-wide review of strategic allocated industrial land, in order to ensure that planning does not take place in a piece-meal way. Given the extensive regeneration projects across major cities, especially around transport hubs – combined with changes in delivery patterns, driven by the internet, and the need to address air pollution and congestion – a review of land should consider whether industrial sites are in the right locations and where new ones may be needed. 

Refining policy to enable the intensification of industrial land through the inclusion of mezzanine floors, mixed use and stacking will need to be considered.  This would enable the full use of industrial land in cities where pressure to release land for housing is growing and the debate around densification continues.


Harvard research on cities and mobility

Nancy Torres, who worked for Google and is joint MBA/MPP candidate at the Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School, is focussed on applying emerging technologies to public sector challenges and in her article ‘How Data and Cities can shape the future of mobility’ she says:

‘The collection and analysis of traffic data can surface vehicle movement and road usage patterns over time for cities. As these patterns become apparent, cities can make strategic decisions on how to coordinate resources (EG traffic lights, parking) in order to reduce overall congestion and increase vehicle efficiency and safety in urban environments. Moreover, after enough data is collected and analysed, cities can integrate machine learning techniques into their systems to make these strategic decisions in real-time. Today, cities are leveraging existing data in order to improve urban mobility.’

‘Moreno Valley, one of California’s fastest growing cities, partnered with Hitachi Visualization to set up a video system of more than 430 cameras to design solutions for a number of the city’s challenges. The impetus for the project was to introduce efficiencies to the police department and reduce the need to hire additional staff. With police department’s budgets and buy-in, the city decided to invest in a camera system that could serve the police department with the potential to help other departments too. After 12 meetings over several months with different members of the Moreno Valley community, the city implemented the system.’


The University of Strathclyde

Academics have signed an agreement with the New Town Kolkata Development Authority (NKDA) to collaborate on research. Members of the university’s Institute for Future Cities (IFC) will work on the sustainable development of a new satellite city in West Bengal.

New Town is a rapidly-expanding planned residential and information technology hub to the north-east of Kolkata covering 11 square miles with a current population of 30,000. The Strathclyde researchers will share expertise, data and identify issues for joint action, including sustainable energy, reducing pollution, increasing resilience and optimising transport systems.

Mr Richard Bellingham, Director of the IFC states: ‘India will be the world’s second-largest source of urban growth in the next 30 years with hundreds of millions more Indians moving to cities.

The agreement with NKDA follows two separate collaboration agreements signed between Strathclyde and Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai and The Energy Research Institute in Delhi.



The Guardian newspaper has just reported that the UK ‘must secure billions in investment to meet climate targets’ according to a group of influential MPs who say that ‘the collapse in low-carbon investment is endangering jobs and threatening climate commitments.’

The environmental audit committee (EAC) according to the newspaper has reported that the government is failing to implement policies to cut emissions from transport, heating and industry, and called on ministers to consider raising a ‘sovereign green bond as other countries have done to stimulate investment’.

The Guardian states that MPs are currently dismissive of the government’s clean growth strategy which they say is short on detail and ‘cuts to taxpayer-funded support for renewable projects and planning obstacles that have effectively  ruled out new onshore wind turbines across much of the country, have deterred energy companies and their financial backers. ‘

It goes on to quote Alex White, senior policy officer at the Aldersgate Group saying ‘there are willing investors in the green economy but not enough projects to invest in …boosting the pipeline of green infrastructure projects will be critical to meet the UK’s environmental goals and should be the first priority in green finance’.


KPMG – the benefits of sharing data

In KPMG’s recent infrastructure trends 2018 report, the authors state that data is ‘rapidly becoming the backbone of the infrastructure sector…but we are currently in a ‘’mixed economy’’ of data ownership – no one party owns all the date required for smart decision-making.

‘Some of the more progressive governments will likely start to create more open frameworks for data sharing and collaboration…over the long term we expect to see a global transition in the way people value and share data…the challenge will then become how to share data across multiple platforms in an open and transparent way while protecting the privacy of individuals.



IBM is using data systems to improve business efficiency. Airbus manufactures and assembles aircraft parts at seventeen sites in Germany, UK, Spain and France and the sites have long used disparate capital asset and facility management processes, standards and tools. The company needed its facility management and real estate (FMRE) team at Airbus to simplify space, cost and energy-usage tracking across 17 sites in four European countries. With IBM’s TRIRIGA software and FMRE processes harmonized across all sites, Airbus can consolidate FMRE applications by up to 45% simplifying, improving and accelerating decision-making.



The SNC-Lavalin’s Atkins Business has been running an important trial in Manchester – ‘mobility as a service’ – where Nathan’s team has been putting hundreds of customer journeys through a platform that it has developed looking at how  behaviours can be nudged with more choice and flexible pricing. 

Nathan said: ‘For intelligent mobility to really take off we need to understand that it is a “journey” not an end state. We have inherited a modally silo-ed transport network and we now have no choice but to consider challenger business models. We cannot build our way out of congestion.’

In addition, Nathan Marsh says ‘there is an ethical duty to prevent a two-tier society from developing, the tech savvy younger generation living in the city with fantastic end-to-end automotive low carbon vehicle network and the rural older population, often isolated, so we have been running a project in Bristol called FLOURISH to work on that’.


Please see our Future Cities Forum event testimonials:

Phil Graham, Chief Executive, National Infrastructure Commission

‘Excellent morning’s discussion today on infrastructure and regeneration discussing NIC’s Camkox report and forthcoming National Infrastructure Assessment. Thanks for inviting me to speak’


Richard Hicks, Deputy Chief Executive, Medway Council:

“It was a great opportunity to come along and talk with others about place-making and other infrastructure-led opportunities – a really great event.”

Nathan Marsh, Director, Intelligent Mobility (UK and Europe) at SNC-Lavalin’s Atkins Business

‘A really fantastic event this morning, speaking with industry leaders from across mobility, infrastructure and government. It’s all about collaboration as we build future infrastructure together’


Nigel Escott, Director, Network Rail Property

‘It was a pleasure to be at the event…it’s a great format…your questions were key in provoking good discussions, debate and opening up views’


Tim Chapman, Infrastructure Design Leader, Arup

‘Thanks for the opportunity to present to an excellent audience. I found the event to be intelligently curated with many great ideas that also challenged my perception – plus of course the venue was stunning too!’


And on the first Future Cities Forum at RIBA:


Professor Peter Rees, CBE  (Professor of Places and City Planning, UCL Faculty of The Built Environment)

“I was very impressed by the thoroughness of preparation and by the organisation of the event.”


Oliver Schulze (Founder - Schulze+Grassov and Visiting Professor of Urban Design, Washington University, St.Louis)

“You assembled a great round table with many good people.”


Simon Payne, (former) Director of Environment, Cambridge City Council

“It was really inspiring to be involved in the Forum.”

Bert Martin, Development Director, Land Securities PLC

“I very much enjoyed the discussion, and it was great to meet with the other contributors”.


Jack Renteria, Business Development Director 3XN Architects

“Thank you for curating a very inspiring discourse”


The Making of the Modern City: infrastructure, regeneration, investment 2018

City Hall, London – Tuesday 8 May 2018



Key Speaker – 


We are delighted that our our key speaker for this forum will be:

Phil Graham, Chief Executive, National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) UK.


Forum introduction:


The collapse of Carillion has sent shock waves through the UK for the potential nationwide impact it will have long term on construction projects. It has raised a debate on how we manage such fundamental construction and maintenance services and who is put in charge of them.

Our systems for modern cities are highly interconnected, so for this our 8th Future Cities Forum - at City Hall, London - we thought we should look at how our modern day cities function successfully and sustainably.

Will new infrastructure provide aesthetically pleasing physical additions to our environment and what of the social benefit to our society of these developments? The construction company Mace has called for ‘social value’ measures and targets to be formally embedded in all major construction and infrastructure programmes in the UK.

National Infrastructure Commission

Responding to the National Infrastructure Commission’s report ‘Data for the Public Good’ on 14th December 2017, Professor Lord Robert Mair, President, Institution of Civil Engineers, commented:

 ‘Good infrastructure underpins thriving communities and economic growth. It enables peoples’ day to day lives – creating connectivity, access to key utilities and underpinning our social infrastructure.’

While Sir Alan Wilson, Chief Executive of The Alan Turing Institute, explained:


‘ ..there is a new utility, so crucial to the efficient functioning of modern life that we could not do without it: data. Like any major system such as transport, housing or telecoms, data requires its own infrastructure, to collect it, store it and derive knowledge and value from it.’


How much will the resignation of Lord Adonis, Chairman of the government’s Infrastructure Commission affect this year’s march of new infrastructure and in which direction with the new Chair, Sir John Armitt take it?

The Commission is preparing for the publication of the first National Infrastructure Assessment later this year. Speaking about his appointment, Sir John Armitt said:

‘Making the right choices about planning and investing in infrastructure is critical to the UK’s prosperity and quality of life. I want the Commission to remain focused on tackling the long-term issues of congestion, capacity and carbon – and to continue to hold the government to account where decisive action is needed – so we can secure the improvements that companies, communities and families need.’



The Telegraph last year reported that although the UK ‘remains as one of the top countries for investors… it is falling in the ranking as Brexit and political stability weigh heavily.’

It quoted the law firm CMS as saying that the UK could look to top placed Netherlands as an example of ‘’transparent and efficient procurement process and a healthy multi-billion euro pipeline in road and water Public-Private- Partnerships’’


While in the USA, The Brookings Institution – a non-profit public policy organisation based in Washington – in its research report ‘If you build it: A guide to the economics of infrastructure investment’ argues that ‘because much of the nation’s infrastructure generates broadly shared benefits that are not limited to those who can pay, decisions about this infrastructure are an important public policy concern and not just a matter for private firms and investors’

In the UK, £42 billion has been spent on progressing HS2 from London to the North , and £540 million extra funding was announced in the 2017 Budget to boost Northern Ireland’s infrastructure.

Recently, an all-women team ‘VeloCity’ won the ideas competition set out by the National Infrastructure Commission to revitalise six villages and a network of cycling in the Cambridge-Milton Keynes –Oxford Corridor.

The team including Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design, Featherstone Young, Khaa, Marko and Placemakers, Mikhail Riches and Expedition Engineering looked at the development of the region over the course of 30 years.



Research questions

Questions at the 8th Future Cities Forum will cut across the future of infrastructure in the UK, place-making, modular construction in housing, investment in academic research and transport:

  • Do we need a better dialogue and decision-making over how construction projects are commissioned?

  • How do we address the funding gap in infrastructure projects?

  • What can the UK learn and borrow in best practice from successful European city infrastructure projects?

  • How can cities prepare to achieve social, economic and cultural maximum benefit from new rail projects?

  • Why is city gateway design and investment essential to regeneration?

  • How can data infrastructure be integrated into future city planning?

  • How can we enable smaller infrastructure projects?

  • Is the UK moving fast enough on modular construction and housing?

  • Can we ensure that infrastructure investment helps solve the UK housing crisis?

  • Is airport investment the Achilles heel of UK infrastructure?

  • How can the UK road network become fully “smart”, and how will these innovations reduce congestion, pollution and respect place-making and quality of life in cities and suburbs. What can we learn from “smart” port projects in Europe?

  • How should city planners prepare for the electric age in transport?

  • Has risk become too high for office construction?

  • What has happened to the Northern Powerhouse?

  • How should companies protect themselves from cyber-attack and will these measures protect our essential services?


City Hall, London

This forum gathers academics, investors, developers, consulting engineers, architects, and city planners along with government and city councils into one research event with the outcomes written up in a white paper.

The hall will be arranged into cabaret tables with guests of 10 on each. There will be a top table of panel experts and a break-out session for research gathering and networking.

Please contact Future Cities Forum for further details.

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