Bigger Better Bolder – Building new London


On 11 June, Catalyst hosted Bigger, Better, Bolder – Building New London, at The Royal Festival Halls on
London’s south bank.

image003Experts from different professions– from architects to private house builders to local authorities – joined Catalyst for three hours of  intelligent discussion and debate around how we can work together to build more homes and create thriving communities in London and the South East hub.

First up (after a short introduction from Catalyst’s Chair Richard Brown) was Alistair Donald of the Future Cities Project.  He argued that cities become great because our forefathers took big risks.  Alistair urged us to think the unthinkable. Take risks! Experiment! Reject the limits placed on us by regulation! Thought-provoking stuff.

Suitably energised, we split up into three groups for interactive session to look at three big issues in the building of new London:

“The sub-plenary sessions were a great idea”

Changing demographics. Led by Lucy Musgrove from Publica and Tom Titherington (Catalyst’s Director of Business Development & Market Intelligence), this group looked at how London can adapt to accommodate both the recent baby-boom and increasing numbers of older people in our communities. The group also looked at innovative uses of ‘left over’ space.

image006Economics. Yolande Barnes from Savills presented research showing the many parts of London where regeneration and improvements in infrastructure and facilities could transform that area’s property values.  Julia Moulder (Catalyst Director of Development) showed how this works in action with Catalyst’s regeneration of Wornington Green in north Kensington. Our regeneration is raising property values in the area and creating homes for private sale – which in turn generates the funds needed to build homes for social rent that ensure that the all current estate residents can stay.

image007Politics (of planning)
Fred Manson of the Heatherwick Studio Catalyst Chief Executive Rod Cahill sought to challenge commonly held perceptions about the status of renting and owner occupation, and the factors that should be considered when choosing the location of new homes. Suffice to say, a lively debate ensued.


I loved that you were willing to be a forum for thinking and innovation”

Our guests told us that they had a great time and feedback on the night and from our post-event survey has been really good.  A lot of organisations are holding housing events or conferences at the moment, so it has been great to see that our guests really appreciated how different Bigger Better Bolder was – relishing the variety of speakers and the different views that they brought to this often-discussed topic. Many responders commented that they learned new things and got a fresh perspective.


What next?

We are producing a video of clips from the event along with a short publication looking at housing in London over the next 50 years. These will be available from early September.

We are also planning more events in the future, to build of the success of Bigger Better Bolder.