Welcome to Future Cities Forum providing high quality thought leadership events, discussions and reports  on best practice for the development and 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. 

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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 and transport operators, construction companies, technology innovators, hospital trusts, universities, cultural organisations, architects, engineers and real estate advisers.

Over 400 organisations have contributed across twenty forums and numerous panel discussions to date and include: The Infrastructure & Projects Authority, Wellcome, Tate Modern, the V&A, LCR Property, Network Rail, National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic England, Mount Anvil, Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, Aviva Investors, Grimshaw, BDP, M & G Real Estate, Laing O' Rourke, Oxford City Council, Deloitte, Arup, Peabody, Transport for London, Liverpool City Council, London Borough of Newham, Hepworth Wakefield, Birmingham City Council, Costain Group, Cushman & Wakefield, Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, The National Infrastructure Commission, Greater London Authority, Stride Treglown, East West Railway Company, HS1, Imperial College London and Zaha Hadid Architects.

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The Digital City

How is the increasing digitisation of cities helping solve climate change issues?

On 11th November Future Cities Forum is discussing the recent UK government investment announced in the Autumn Budget 2021 to digitise the planning system in England and how this can support action against climate change, how one museum is digitising its collection to help scientists research new drugs to combat disease, whether predictive analytics could guide the investment and roll out for EV infrastructure and how digital planning in one of  the most sustainable of cities, Heidelberg in  Germany is working to achieve net Zero ambitions.

Sustainable infrastructure and green cities

We are very pleased that the Head of Transport Strategy and Planning at Transport for London, Christina Calderato, will join our September debate on 'Sustainable Infrastructure and Green Cities'.


For the last 10 years, she has worked across a diverse range of policy areas at TfL and led the team that developed the current Mayor’s Transport Strategy. In her current role, Christina manages teams leading on freight, road danger reduction, air quality and Healthy Streets.


Future Cities Forum will be discussing how planning and design can encourage healthy lifestyles and travel as well as planning green spaces in cities around joined up housing and transport.


More investment from the UK government is being put behind active travel post pandemic to encourage healthy lifestyles.

The Department of Transport states that the active travel boom seen throughout the pandemic will continue to thrive thanks to a £338 million package to boost cycling and walking across the country. Infrastructure upgrades, changes to The Highway Code and new requirements to ensure that active travel schemes' effects are properly assessed are among the new measures published in recently


The government says this comes after last year saw cycling rise more than in the previous 20 years put together, with the number of miles cycled on British roads rocketing by 45.7% to 5 billion.


Independent opinion polling and new research also published by the DfT shows that active travel schemes are supported on average by a ratio of two-to-one.


As the UK prepares to host COP26 later this year, these initiatives will play a key role in the government's drive to build back greener from the pandemic and achieve net zero emissions by 2050

Science Cities: new research and connected places

The BBC has just announced that the prime minister has set out plans to cement the UK's place as a 'science superpower'. It states how he will chair a new National Science and Technology Council to provide strategic direction on how research is harnessed for the public good.

At our forum on 24 June guests will debate how planning should be used to ensure that our 'overheating science cities' are preserved as attractive and well-functioning places to live and work in, how science and innovation is helping to promote connected and seamless travel and how our science buildings will enable the scientists of the future to come up with important 'light bulb' moments.

Future High Streets & City Centres

Westminster City Council's Programme Director for the Oxford Street District Elad Eisenstein will be speaking at our 13th May 'Future High Streets and City Centres' discussions along with the Chief Executive of Worcester City Council, David Blake and Head of Regeneration at Leeds City Council, Adam Brannen. They will be joined by Partner at DLA Piper, Andrew Clarke who has master-minded the creation of a major new Leeds office for the UK's largest law firm next to the railway station and Channel 4's HQ.

The forum discussion will look at the recovery of retail and offices as well as the planning of residential and public realm post Covid-19.

Elad joined Westminster in October 2020. He is responsible for working with local groups and partners to develop ideas and deliver on the council’s investment in this key district within the West End.

He is trained as an architect and urban designer and has over two decades of experience specialising in leading, designing and delivering complex and large-scale urban projects. His work balances global challenges such as climate change or economic instability with the aspirations of local communities. 

Elad is a member of the Mayor of London’s Infrastructure Advisory Panel and further serves as invited critic at leading international universities.

Image of Elad Eisenstein from Westminster City Council

Cultural Cities: bringing back visitors

Our 'second in our 'Cultural Cities' series in March 2021 will discuss measures to help museums and performance venues recover footfall post-pandemic

Contributors will include the Director of National Museums Liverpool, Laura Pye (pictured - courtesy Gareth Jones), Zak Mensah, Co-CEO of Birmingham Museums and Dr Xavier Bray, Director of the Wallace Collection in London. The discussion will also include senior planners, developers and architects.

National Museums Liverpool is currently running an extensive project to re-design the connections between its sites, and to provide high quality public ream so visitors can spend more time around the building environments.

(Portrait of Laura Pye by Gareth Jones)

Science Cities - key worker housing

The forum – part of the ‘European Science Cities’ series – will examine how cities can best plan and create affordable homes linked to jobs within hospital and R&D campuses, learning from international best practice while respecting local culture and architecture.


The debate will look at the ambitions of creating ‘porous’ campuses which integrate with the wider city and provide meeting and social spaces – that benefit R&D collaboration and well-being


It will discuss how to transition from car-dependent environments towards Net Zero cities, and which create biodiversity from brownfield sites.


The discussion will be Zoom-based, will be recorded for inclusion in a related Future Cities Forum report.

(Image: proposed new Moorfields Eye Hospital and research facilities at St Pancras London - Penoyre + Prasad)

European Technology Cities

Future Cities Forum is holding its 'Cambridge and European Technology Cities' event on 3rd December with leading speakers from UK and European innovation hubs. (Image: CGI of Google's London HQ - Heatherwick Studio)


Topics to be discussed will include the need for private-public collaboration and the impact of R&D sector growth on real estate and housing affordability. We will review technology investment (especially across healthcare) and development in the Cambridge region, a year on from our November 2019 ‘Science Cities’ forum at Cambridge University.


Cities to be included in the debate and follow-on report include Cambridge in the UK, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Gothenburg and Stockholm / Uppsala in Sweden and Manchester. Contributors will include investors, city councils, university technology transfer offices, teaching hospitals and professional advisers. 


This forum will compare the approaches and fortunes of selected European technology clusters and their host cities. It will look at how cities make themselves attractive to businesses and to human talent working at the cutting edge of technology innovation. How these cities work as test beds for technology trials across health, mobility, infrastructure and everyday living will be examined.


This debate follows two forums – Science Cities I and II – that looked at how the UK can sustain and grow leadership in science and technology with a focus on creating the best places and campuses for R&D. It explored the proposed development of the Knowledge Arc between Oxford and Cambridge and approaches to building the right infrastructure and housing for expanding communities in this knowledge-rich region, which contains world famous universities, research institutions and science-led businesses.

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.

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?

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.

The Making of the Modern City

Over the last twenty months – through the extraordinary stresses and confinements of the global pandemic - we have seen an acceleration of the pressures that have been changing how we live in cities. Advances in communications technology, combined with lockdowns, has meant that organisations that are not involved in manufacturing can work remotely – successfully - without the need to enter a conventional office building.

This has had a profound impact on the ecosystem of businesses with physical premises that have traditionally supported office life in cities – hairdressers, sandwich shops, restaurants and bars, dry-cleaners, and other retail as well as transport services. Some towns and cities have proved more resilient than others.

Owners and asset managers have had to re-think the role of the office building towards a much more flexible multi-use role, designed to enhance collaboration, meeting and adaptable spaces, while accepting that some must be converted wholly or partly to residential or other uses.

Online shopping has boomed, cementing evolving trends that have been damaging many high streets since 2000. The John Lewis Partnership’s decision to convert the upper floors of the Oxford Street flagship store to residential is a sign of the changes wrought partly by Covid-19.

However, the drive towards Net Zero has encouraged local authorities and BIDs to invest in healthy streets programmes, taking out the car where possible. The onus put on cultural life, entertainment experiences, and higher education by some cities, has been a catalyst for the conversion of failing department stores into hotels and flexible university space – as well as a review of how public space works.

The UK government continues to drive more efficient transport and energy infrastructure for 2022 with the electrification of cities. The phased removal of diesel and petrol driven transport has presented new challenges for city authorities around energy supply and management, freight deliveries, with new design and construction costs for EV charging, conversion of roads for cycle traffic and new pedestrian public ream.

In our 14th January 2022 forum at Bow Bells House, we will discuss themes that include the future of offices, sustainable transport, housing and mixed-use regeneration, and the emerging character of retail post pandemic.

Science Cities and the Arc

Future Cities Forum held its 'Science Cities and the Arc' event at Newnham College Cambridge on Wednesday 13 October.


The vision for the Arc and role of the OxCam Arc Expert Advisory Panel was discussed by Emma Cariaga, Chair, OxCam Arc Expert Advisory Panel / Joint Head of Canada Water & Head of Residential, British Land - followed by three panel discussions.

How do we create sustainable settlements for the Arc, linked to first class, joined-up infrastructure?


Emma Cariaga, OxCam Arc Expert Advisory Panel and British Land

Anna Strongman, Chief Executive of Oxford University Development

Julia Foster, Managing Partner, David Lock Associates

Fred Pilbrow, Founding Partner, Pilbrow & Partners


Planning workshop – led by Tom Perry of LDA Design (Head of Cambridge Studio and formerly The Design Council’s Head of Architecture & the Built Environment)


How do we design the best places for R&D collaboration - for universities, health trusts and the private sector?


Professor Lynette Ryals, Chief Executive, MK:U / Pro Vice Chancellor, Cranfield University

Laurel Powers-Freeling, Chair - Cambridge University Health Partners, Interim Chair - Cambridge Biomedical Campus Ltd

Dr Martin Dougherty, COO, Wellcome Genome Campus and Wellcome Sanger Institute

Matt Smith - Head of Leasing, BioMed Realty

Ed Hayden, Director, Scott Brownrigg Architects

How do we deliver high quality affordable accommodation and workspace in our university cities and across the Arc, servicing the knowledge economy?

Cllr Bridget Smith, Leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council

Dr Jason Matthews, Development Adviser to Oxford North / Thomas White Oxford for St John’s College Oxford (and Director, Matthews and Sadler Estates)

Jo Cowen, CEO, Jo Cowen Architects

Chris Williams, Senior Director (Occupier Transactions), CBRE

Cultural Cities with the DCMS 

On 10 September 2021 Future Cities Forum will discuss the role of museums and libraries as vital civic anchors for the cultural life of cities, as well the strategies for attracting visitors and tourists post-pandemic.

Lord Mendoza, Commissioner for Cultural Recovery at the Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) will lead the discussion, which will have input from leading museum directors, libraries, local authorities, planners and architects.

(Portrait of Neil Mendoza by John Cairns)

Cultural Cities - the Recovery

Tim Reeve, Deputy Director and COO of V&A Museum will lead our 'Cultural Cities - The Recovery' panel discussion on 22 June, alongside directors from the leading art museums and cultural centres in Bristol, Lisbon and Blackpool. Contributors will include Beatrice Leanza, Director of MAAT (Lisbon), Gary Topp, Director of Arnolfini Bristol, Naila Yousuf - Partner at Wright & Wright Architects (and Project Lead for the recent upgrading of Museum of the Home in East London will contribute and the Leader of Blackpool Council, Cllr Lynn Williams will also join to talk about the collaboration with the V&A  on the Blackpool Museum Project, which is set to reflect the entertainment and circus history of this famous seaside resort.

Image: The Circle and Nature - at Zurich Airport - copyright www.mir.no

Infrastructure 2021 - innovation, sustainability and transport hubs

Our April forum panel will debate current thinking for planning, development and innovation around multi-modal transport hubs, against a background of changing commuter behaviour and operating models post-pandemic.

The discussion will include Zurich Airport's Chief Commercial Officer, Stefan Gross, alongside Transport for London's Director of City Planning, Alex Williams. Also joining will be the Leader of Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, Ian Courts who is the HS2 and Environment Portfolio holder for West Midlands Combined Authority, and Newcastle City Council's Head of Transport Investment, Graham Grant. Grimshaw partner, Jolyon Brewis, Costain Group Head of Business Development (Transportation), Andrea Green and Ellie Evans, Senior Partner at economics consultancy Volterra Partners complete the panel.

Japanese architect Riken Yamamoto won the competition set by Flughafen Zurich AG to design the Circle (pictured) which is a destination district next to the airport, made up of a convention centre, shops, restaurants and the new University Hospital Airport as well as  a woodland park.

Future High Streets and city centre development - footfall recovery

Our 'future high streets forum will discuss measures to help city and town centres recover footfall post-pandemic.

Contributors will include the Chief Executive of Sunderland City Council, Patrick Melia and Cllr Steve Pitt from Portsmouth City Council who has been instrumental in the rescue of the New Theatre Royal. Both councils are beneficiaries of the government's High Streets Fund.  Louise Brennan, who oversees the Heritage Acton Zone fund and strategy for Historic England will also join alongside senior planners, developers and architects.


(Image: National Glassworks Museum, Sunderland Riverside) 

The forum – part of the ‘European Science Cities’ series – will examine how cities can best plan and create affordable homes linked to jobs within hospital and R&D campuses, learning from international best practice while respecting local culture and architecture.


The debate will look at the ambitions of creating ‘porous’ campuses which integrate with the wider city and provide meeting and social spaces – that benefit R&D collaboration and well-being


It will discuss how to transition from car-dependent environments towards Net Zero cities, and which create biodiversity from brownfield sites.


The discussion will be Zoom-based, will be recorded for inclusion in a related Future Cities Forum report.

(Image: proposed new Moorfields Eye Hospital and research facilities at St Pancras London - Penoyre + Prasad)

Future Cities Forum will be running a series of discussions on the topic of sustainability over 2020/2021 to include areas such as housing, energy, climate change and public realm design.


The debates will ask whether the government’s new ideas on planning will lead to housing provision which meet targets on carbon reduction, how the design of city and district heat networks will help tackle climate change, the role of hydrogen in improving green energy supplies, and whether Covid-19 has accelerated the implementation of better public realm, creating healthier and more sustainable city centres and retail provision?


Back in the summer the UK government announced a reform of the planning system, which could see land being divided up into three categories – ‘growth’, ‘renewal’ and ‘protected’. On land earmarked for growth, new homes, schools and hospitals will be allowed to be built automatically, with councils unable to veto. Other measures included that all new homes should be carbon neutral by 2050 and all new streets should be tree-lined.


Critics argued that this would lead to rushed poor quality housing and the new rules would diminish the influence of local authorities as well as communities being side-lined in decision making.


Alan Jones, President of RIBA told BBC News:


‘While there is no doubt the planning system needs reform, these shameful proposals do almost nothing to guarantee the delivery of affordable, well-designed and sustainable homes.’



Planners, investors, developers, engineers, architects, transport and energy companies and local authorities will all take part in these important discussions – the first of which is online 18th November at 2 pm.


Key contributors in our debate will include

Patrick Allcorn, Head of Local Energy, Department for Business, Energy, & Industrial Strategy

Patrick has led the local energy team in BEIS since October 2015, previously working in the Heat Strategy team where he developed a range of community initiatives, developing the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive. He will be talking about the following topics below.

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.

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

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?

New Districts: planning, development and design

Future Cities Forum’s series on ‘New districts: planning, development and design’ which started in August 2021, draws partly on the November Budget announcement that there will be £24 billion to support housing including £1.8 billion for the development of brownfield sites by councils. According to LocalGov.co.uk the Brownfield Land release Fund has already given £58 million to 53 councils.

This focus has additional interest at a time when the pandemic has accelerated decisions by owners, investors and local authorities to re-think and re-purpose struggling shopping centres.

In the series we examine best practice in place-making and construction approaches across contrasting sites in different cities, with thought for sustainably sourced materials and energy-conscious construction methods. The provision for affordable housing and better workspaces close to transport hubs will also be discussed and how this will reduce the development pressure off greenfield land across the UK.

Our second event in the series on 1st December will discuss some challenging but historic sites in London, Oxford and Milton Keynes (such as the Agora redevelopment in Wolverton - picture above from  developer Town) , and also the re-purposing of 1960s shopping centres.


Science Cities and the Arc

On 13 October at Newnham College Cambridge we will holding a physical forum to discuss the planning and design for the best places for R&D collaboration.

Future Cities Forum is delighted that the CEO of Oxford University Development, Anna Strongman, and also Dr David Hardman, Managing Director of Bruntwood Scitech (Birmingham) will join this event at Cambridge University alongside local authority directors, infrastructure operators,, university senior bursars, and developers.

OUD is a joint venture between Oxford University and Legal & General, set up to build Innovation Districts and subsidised accommodation for graduate students and the university workforce.

Anna was previously Managing Partner of Argent LLP. She spent 12 years on a there working on a range of asset, development and business planning projects. Highlights included leading the Asset Management of King’s Cross, developing Coal Drops Yard and setting up a BTR portfolio with JV partners Related.

David spent 10 years in Cambridge leading the early commercial development of the Babraham Research Campus and then moved to Birmingham in 2008 and over the last 13 years has developed and implemented a strategy to build on the legacy of Aston Science Park. The result is the Innovation Birmingham Campus; an urban focal point promoting digital innovation and adoption across all sectors. In 2018 the Campus became part of Bruntwood SciTech to create a focal point for a thriving innovation district in Birmingham.

Following 'Science Cities' forums which have discussed the planning and integration of R&D hubs both within cities and in new residential districts such as Stockholm (Karolinska Institutet), Heidelberg in Germany, Oxford North and the West Midlands (Warwick University) our October 2021 forum will discuss best practice collaboration between public and private sectors.

It will have a focus on how the Arc linking Oxford through Milton Keynes and Bedford to Cambridge will become a powerhouse of innovation, connected to Birmingham's emerging tech and life sciences hubs and to London's world class centres at King's Cross St Pancras, Imperial West in Hammersmith, and the developing South Bank campuses of Guy's and St Thomas's NHS Trust.

New districts: planning, development & regeneration 

On 18 August 2021 Future Cities Forum will discuss the planning, development and design of new settlements and regeneration districts. This will include best practice examples for transforming urban brownfield sites in London and Birmingham.

Contributors taking part include developers Hadley Property Group and Cole Waterhouse, planners from Birmingham City Council and the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, as well as LDA Design - which is part of the core design team tasked with transforming the Thames-side Blackwall Yard into a 'new piece of city'.

(Image: Proposed development of Upper Trinity Street, Digbeth, Birmingham)

Image from Rotterdam Partners

Planning  for Net Zero: energy and sustainability


Future Cities Forum is delighted that the Infrastructure & Projects Authority, Camden and Lewisham Councils along with investor and asset manager Amber Infrastructure will be speaking at our 20th May  'Planning for Net Zero:' energy and Sustainability 2021' forum.

Karl Fitzgerald, Development Director at the I&PA will be describing how infrastructure planning around energy, housing and transport needs to be joined-up if Net Zero ambitions are to be approached - especially where there are new settlements.

'The key', Karl says,' is to find willing stake-holders, who are prepared to drive up the quality of thinking, planning and implementation. The themes of Net Zero, bio-diversity net gain, and natural capital are all relatively new in planning and infrastructure terms. There is no pattern book (around infrastructure and sustainability) but we need to establish one. It is only by getting under the skin (of these issues), getting stuck in to projects, and learning by example that we can move forward. The range of stake-holders involved in planning the housing and supporting infrastructure of energy, utilities and transport for the Oxford to Cambridge Arc is massive. 

Science Cities - new developments

Our April Science Cities forum will welcome speakers from Warwick University, BioMed Realty, Exeter, Begbroke (University of Oxford) and Oxford science parks, Westminster City Council and architects Pilbrow + Partners.

The UK government has been championing science and innovation for economic growth, but how our over-heating science cities of London, Oxford and Cambridge in particular are developing for 'balanced city living', has been a key topic of discussion for Future Cities Forum.


Director of Real Estate, at Warwick University, James Breckon, will be speaking about the recent completion of the £30 million IBRB biomedical research building which includes the Wolfson Tissue Mechanobiology and Human Disease Laboratory. This has been developed with a £750,000 grant and comprises a 400-seat lecture theatre and five-storeys of laboratories, as well as social and collaboration spaces. The research work to take place in the building will increase understanding of a wide range of diseases from cancer to brittle bones and heart conditions, increasing the ability to fight human diseases.


James described how the building has been delivered during exceptional times and is testament to the tenacity and commitment shown by all those involved in designing and building it from the construction industry:

Infrastructure & development: railway station investment


Our February 2021 'Infrastructure and development forum will be led by Stephen Dance, Head of the Commercial Adviser Team at the Infrastructure & Projects Authority. 

Future Cities Forum is debating the growth and direction of investment in infrastructure and related developments this week with the Infrastructure & Projects Authority, looking at the future economic benefits, especially around the Oxford to Cambridge ARC, the HS2 stations proposed for the West Midlands and at Crewe, and the Northumberland re-opened railway lines.

The UK government's recent package to reopen two important rail routes closed more than five decades ago, includes the delivery of the next phase of East West Rail, which will create 1,500 skilled jobs, and reinstate direct rail services between Bicester and Bletchley for the first time since 1968. It also includes £34 million to progress plans to reopen the Northumberland line between Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Ashington, which closed to passengers in 1964 as part of the Beeching cuts.

Themes will include the levelling-up investment and planning strategy for UK transport infrastructure, digital innovations as well as the importance of transport hub led district regeneration.

Cultural Cities - London districts, communities and the pandemic with V&A East

Future Cities Forum will be holding a new cultural forum in January 2021 to look at the development of cultural real estate, creative districts and the social, community and economic value that cultural institutions play in our cities’ fortunes.

Our lead contributor will be Gus Casely-Hayford, OBE, the Director of V&A East and he will lead discussions debating the future role of museums in the regeneration of cities post Covid-19.

 A renowned museum director, historian, writer and broadcaster, Gus has moved from his director role at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art in Washington DC, to lead the creative strategy and programming across V&A East's two new public venues - a five storey museum on Stratford Waterfront and a dynamic collections and research centre at Here East - both now under construction in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Both sites will open in 2023 as part of East Bank, a new powerhouse of culture, education, innovation and growth.​

Future Cities Forum held 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 (Image above: CGI of Oxford North development - Fletcher Priest Architects for Thomas White Oxford / St. John' College Oxford University).


The forum  had 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, as well as William Donger, Director of Thomas White Oxford who is overseeing the Oxford North development for St John's College Oxford University.

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 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.

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.