Remembering Honor: Views on our times

The annual event honouring the urban planner is now in its seventh year. EG looks back at some of the lectures and finds they remain relevant to today’s built environment

Honor Chapman (pictured above) was an urban planning and property expert who played a key role in the development of London during the 1990s and had a marked impact on the cityscapes of Berlin and Cardiff. She was the first female partner at Jones Lang Wootton, now JLL, and over her 20-year career at the firm she developed its research practice, most notably its London: World City report.

Chapman died in late August 2009 from a stroke, aged just 67, but her memory lives on through annual lectures given in her name – a celebration of some of the most powerful and influential women involved in London’s landscape.

This year, the Honor Chapman Lecture series – now in its seventh year – saw fit to mark a decade since Chapman’s passing, with JLL’s Katie Kopec, who has been instrumental in the lectures, bringing together some of its past speakers.

Here, we look back at some of those lectures – past and present – for lessons about, comment on and relevance to the environment today.

2013 – the first Honor Chapman Lecture – Dame Judith Mayhew Jonas, commissioner, The Commonwealth War Graves Commission and European trustee of the Urban Land Institute, on “Cities and society”

“The government, under Margaret Thatcher’s leadership, was pursuing a deregulation agenda, which was having a profound effect on the development of the City of London. By opening it up to global firms, people, business activity and capital flows, the City was undergoing modernisation. The rise of finance and business services, which placed London as an international city alongside New York and Tokyo, coincided with the end of the deindustrialisation of London’s economy. At the same time, metropolitan policies were under stress and the conflicts between central government and the Greater London Council resulted in the abolition of the latter.

“The vacuum left by having no metropolitan government led to a consensus being developed among London’s numerous stakeholders, involving players from the public, private and voluntary sectors. Understanding how to protect and enhance London’s position as a leading international city became very important for all these players.

“Partnerships between public, private and voluntary sectors were created to fill the vacuum caused by the lack of a metropolitan-wide government. One of these, the London Pride Partnership, produced a prospectus for London that aimed to confirm its status as the only world city in Europe. It identified three main mechanisms to establish this:

  1. Being a diverse economy, nourished by a world-class labour force, supported by an inward investment programme leveraging high-quality sites;
  2. Strong social cohesiveness, backed by targets for affordable housing; and
  3. Outstanding infrastructure, services and quality of living.

“There is now a wide consensus of what is required for world cities to be successful. These include mobility and space to grow, quality of life and place, a highly skilled workforce, transparency of the business environment, concentrations of financial services firms and a well-managed city brand.”

2016 – Annie Hampson, chief planning officer and development director, City of London Corporation, on “Continuity and change in the City”

“At a time when planning has been cited as an enemy of enterprise, I would like to persuade you that planning genuinely carried out in the public interest and in a spirit of partnership can facilitate growth and placemaking. There is no doubt that it is easier to facilitate change within the City, where governance is aligned to that objective, the returns on development make it attractive to investors (subject to the ups and downs of economic cycles), and there is growing occupational demand.

“The City has been evolving for over 2,000 years and it is impossible to separate that evolution from the city that we have today.

“The City is not an island; its ability to thrive and succeed as a world financial centre is utterly dependent on London’s ability in its widest sense to provide the transport, the housing, the connectivity, the diversity of culture, the open spaces and other experiences citizens require. It is this essential buzz that makes London such an attractive world city and such a draw. It is vital that the City is fully engaged with that debate and its wider role in Europe.”

2017 – Baroness Margaret Ford, chair of STV Group and NewRiver REIT, former chair of Grainger, English Partnerships and the Olympic Park Legacy Company, on “How the government can increase the housing supply: Learning from new towns”

“When I overlaid the geography of new towns with the pattern of completions, it was not just that the public building programmes of the new towns contributed hugely to supply, but after policy changed in the early 1970s and private developers were encouraged to come into the programme, private completions contribute significantly too. And the reason that this carries on well after the formal new towns programme starts to get wound up is startlingly simple. It is because consented land, complete with social infrastructure and demand, remains available – at the right price – for development. As it progressively runs out, by the early 1990s, we start to see a return to the average run of completions as we revert to traditional incremental growth through the normal planning system.

“So when government exhorts the volume builders to deliver more, it is obviously only ever going to solve some of the problem at the margin. I think the answer is in government’s own hands, which is to provide designated areas for development and the powers and resources necessary to execute on a long-term plan. In the first eight years of the London new towns programme, astonishingly, one-third of the planned growth was accomplished. And that was from a standing start, with no infrastructure.

“We have learnt so much in the past 50 years about what makes great places. We are so much better educated about sustainability and the built form and we have all of the right tools at our disposal to make a fabulous job of creating new supplements.”

2018 – Dame Vivian Hunt, managing partner of McKinsey & Company, UK & Ireland, on “How inclusive leadership leads to inclusive growth”

“As organisations and as cities we can no longer view diversity as an optional window dressing. The most successful companies do many things well and all use diversity as a source of competitive differentiation. London can also maintain its edge as a modern city by being smarter.

“Our challenge for a smart London is to take powerful technologies, our diverse talent pool, our growing array of skill sets and our increasingly agile ways of working and convert them to innovation and economic development. That is the formula for unlocking growth and it is crucial for maintaining London’s place as a global economic leader, as well as a driver of economic prosperity for the whole UK.

“I am confident that the transformation isn’t over. In the next 20 years we will see new challenges – and it is possible that the city will change more than it has in the last 20. As ever in its history, London will be remade again and again.”

2019 – Dame DeAnne Julius, founding member of the Monetary Policy Committee at the Bank of England and former chair of University College London and non-executive director at JLL, on “Cities and universities: A powerful growth dynamic”

“Clusters around San Francisco, London and Boston significantly outperform any other city/university pairings. This outperformance is based on a complex set of network effects. Universities spawn spin-out companies, which need professional support services – law, finance, accounting, labs, IT – which in turn require highly trained people, many of whom have families, which need good schools and job opportunities for spouses.

One hears again and again that recruiting the right talent is the biggest challenge that business leaders cite. When Amazon launched its competition for its second HQ city in the US, it specified that the criteria were a population of more than 1m and the ability to attract and keep strong technical talent. And where better to find that talent than at a local university?”

The Honor Chapman Lecture series was created in 2013 by Marc Mogull, Rosemary Feenan and Andrew Gould who wanted to form a lasting tribute to their colleague, Honor Chapman.

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