ITC 2022 Annual Lecture

What will be the future of the city centre after the Covid19 Pandemic?

The 10th ITC Annual Lecture

7 July 2022, University College London

For our 10th Annual lecture the ITC was delighted to partner again with the Centre for Transport Studies at University College London, which hosted our first in-person Lecture since 2019 due to the Covid19 pandemic. This Lecture series, which was inaugurated in 2013, explores major strategic questions that will affect the future of land use and transport in Britain.

This year’s Lecture explored the future of the city centre in the wake of the Covid19 pandemic. To open proceedings, we were delighted to welcome Professor Sarah Sharples, the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Department for Transport, who gave an insightful welcome address. Professor Sharples expressed gratitude to the ITC and to the Centre for Transport Studies at UCL for hosting the Lecture, and explained some of the challenges that policy makers now faced as a result of changing behaviours wrought by the pandemic.

The first guest lecturer was Dr Frances Holliss, Emeritus Reader in Architecture at London Metropolitan University, and founder of the Workhome project. Dr Holliss began by observing that working patterns had seen massive changes as a result of the pandemic, arising from a highly successful forced experiment in home-based work. As a result, daily commuting had significantly reduced since many people were now using remote offices on fewer days. This created challenges for urban and transport planners, as well as opportunities to improve home-based working environments, better design office buildings and repurpose under-utilised office space. She offered a range of insights on how planners and architects could adapt to this new environment and better serve the needs of people.

For the responding Lecture we were delighted to welcome Mel Barrett, Chief Executive of Nottingham City Council, one of Britain’s most economically important cities. Mr Barrett began by explaining the nature of the Nottingham city region, and the challenges that the impacts of the pandemic had brought. City leaders should be proactive, he argued, in thinking about what kind of regeneration urban areas required to best serve the needs of people. He used the example of Nottingham’s Broadmarsh redevelopment scheme which was placing green spaces, low-carbon travel, and city heritage at the core of its masterplan. Multi-use meeting spaces would be important, he explained, as well as mobility solutions which encouraged a revival in the use of public transport which had been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. He remained hopeful that city centres like Nottingham could rise to this challenge and remain important centres for public engagement and activity.

A concluding vote of thanks was given by ITC Chairman Terry Hill CBE who expressed gratitude to the excellent Lecturers and to UCL for kindly hosting the event.

The ITC would like to thank our corporate members whose support made the Lecture possible.