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Peter Murray


Members are the lifeblood of the London Society, helping fund our events, publications and the work we do with the All-Party Parliamentary Group.

More than that, the engaged membership that we have gets involved in the talks and debates we hold, comes on the tours and walks, and contributes to the discussion on the sort of capital city that we want.

If you’re interested in making London a better place in which to live and to work, want to know more about the city’s history and development, enjoy seeing ‘behind the scenes’ at famous buildings and architects’ practices, then you really need to become a member.

And this is the best time at which to join. In the New Year, membership rates increase, so if you join now, you can save up to £10 off.

The spring 2018 events programme is taking shape (you can download the current list here) with booking open to members for several events.

Many of our events sold out in 2017, so if you want to make sure that you don’t miss a talk or tour that you’re really interested in, then becoming a member gives you priority booking as well as discounted tickets.

We have nearly 1,000 individual members now and hope to get this to 1,500 next year. Join today and you’ll be part of a growing society that is educating, informing and entertaining its members. Click here for more information.

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Peter Murray


As part of the Society’s London Icons series, Emily Gee, Historic England’s London Planning Director, looked at the historic context of building tall in London – Finbar Bradley reports:

In recent times the structures that most people would perceive as iconic have tended to be London’s new breed of tall buildings. On Thursday night and firmly with our feet on the ground at Cowcross Street, the London Society heard a dynamic “short history of London” from the 1600’s until the present. Emily Gee of Historic England took people on a journey from the disasters which brought about planning reform, through the backlash of early attempts to create tall buildings and to future possibilities.

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Peter Murray

Want to distinguish your Garden City from your City Garden? Want to learn how we went from Green Belt to Green Growth? The London Society’s Saturday Morning City Planning School is for you! Following on from this spring’s immensely successful Architecture School, this new series of talks seeks to provide an overview of how and why our cities have grown in the way they have, with a focus on London.

To find out more and to book for the whole series click here. To book individual talks, go to the events page.

We’ll explore the history of London’s development over the past 2000 years and its urban revival in the past quarter of a century. We’ll explain how decisions are made and how the idea of “affordable” housing, which dominates the media, has emerged over two centuries of debate to the viability-driven decision-making of today. Leading the course will be an expert line-up of speakers, from academia and practice, sharing their experience with an overview of how our city (and cities) have been managed over time and what the future holds.

Details of the five classes, which will be held in the Building Centre in Store Street, WC1 (in association with the Building Environment Trust), can be found here here. If you book the whole series of five, you’ll pay for just four, and non-members who book the whole series will receive a free 12-month membership of the Society.

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Peter Murray


I write this from Seoul where I am attending the inaugural Architecture Biennale. To be able to review the upcoming programme of the Society from the other side of the world allows a certain sense of detachment and reinforces one’s views of London’s unending fascination as a city of great historic complexity and contemporary change.
The autumn’s programme is a great reflection of this. The story of the great estate of the City of London, created from medieval land swaps, crumbling city walls and the dissolution of the Greater London Council, will be told by Michael Welbank, a former President of the Royal Town Planning Institute but also until recently Chief Commoner of the City Corporation, one of the most ancient of official posts. Victor Callister, who until he moved to the Design Council was responsible for the transformation of public spaces in the City, will take us on a walking tour to look at the complex area around Chancery Lane, its links with the Knights Templar and the Inns that contain it. And then there is the Banister Fletcher Lecture to be given by Loyd Grossman, a former architectural writer, guitarist, TV presenter, foodie, Chairman of NADFAS and the Royal Parks, he is also a member of the Court of the Worshipful Company of Art Scholars – which takes us back to the City of London and its ancient governance.
The U+I property company recently erected an artwork by Peter Liversidge on the front of its Victoria offices which in illuminated letters boldly states “Everything is connected”. London’s history can be traced not only through its physical fabric but the less tangible networks that are also part of our heritage as a city.
The full list of forthcoming events is available here.

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Peter Murray


What a wonderfully diverse and unconventional city London is!

What a treat that we can hold our Summer Party in farm not half a mile from the Palace of Westminster. In a new barn at that, designed by a top young architectural practice – Feilden Fowles – with an innovative structure and striking interior. Don’t miss it!

The rich mix of development that forms the character of London’s places has been the focus of Historic England’s recent report entitled Translating Good Growth for London’s Historic Environment which advises the Mayor of London how this distinctness should be recognised in his new London Plan. Emily Gee, London Planning Director at Historic England will be talking in September on the topic of tall buildings and how they can be integrated successfully into a historic city. The View Management Framework is the current mechanism for doing this. Following the row about a tall building in Stratford being visible behind St Paul’s Dome when viewed from King Henry’s Mound at Richmond, Sadiq Khan has said he is going to take another look at the subject.

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Peter Murray


We are looking for stories and contributions for the next issue of the London Society’s Journal.

We also need someone with print production experience to volunteer as a subeditor. This would require carefully fact-checking, editing and styling the copy as it comes in (spread out over end of September and early October).

In particular we will be exploring the theme of:

‘A city for 10 million inhabitants’

We would like to interpret this theme quite broadly and look at the different aspects of London life that are affected by a booming population – not just planning or housing.

We would like to hear about any organisations, thinkers, professionals, community groups etc working on projects – small scale or large – that offer inspiration.

Types of pieces we run:

  • 500 word opinion pieces
  • short case studies of relevant interesting projects by architects, urbanists, artists, academics, community groups,
  • 1,000 word think pieces and reports
  • personal profiles/interviews
  • photography, illustration, graphic data visualisation

Deadlines: Once commissioned, we will need pieces to be written by the end of September in order to have enough time for design & layout.

Sadly we are unable to pay anyone for their contributions, but will happily plug any websites, blogs, recent publications, upcoming events, etc in exchange. And of course you will not only be helping to make the Journal even better, but contributing to informed ongoing debate amongst London Society members and beyond.

If you’d like to contribute, or want to let us know about any projects you think might be worth us covering, do get in touch at

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Peter Murray
APPG London Planning and Built Environment

photo ©Agnese Sanvito

The All Parliamentary Group for London’s Planning and Built Environment gathered in Portcullis House last week to hear a panel of experts on the implications of Grenfell Tower for London’s housing stock.

The session was introduced by Rupa Huq, MP for Ealing Central and Acton, and NLA chairman, Peter Murray, who said it was important to learn from events and ensure that the right mechanisms are in place so similar disasters do not happen again.

[The minutes of the meeting can be downloaded here]

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Peter Murray


The ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING of THE LONDON SOCIETY was held on Monday 26 June 2017  at the offices of Allies & Morrison, 85 Southwark Street, London, SE1 0HX.

40 or so members were present. The slides from the Chairman’s, Treasurer’s and Director’s presentations can be seen below, and you can download the minutes of the meeting here.

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Peter Murray

Tickets are now available to non-members for the Society’s summer party on 10 August. Join us for food and drink, and listen to live music as you catch up with old friends and meet new people at the social event of the year.

We’ve gone full rus in urbe this time round, with the party being hosted at the Oasis City Farm, a stone’s throw from Grimshaw’s old Waterloo International, tucked into a corner of the Archbishop’s Park in SE1.

Opened in 2015, Oasis have transformed this strip of land into a vibrant community resource, connecting children of the city with food and farming. There’ll be an opportunity to examine the magnificent new wooden barn (by architects Feilden Fowles) and to hear more about the project, its achievements so far, and its vision for the future.

Tickets are limited and last year’s summer party sold out, so make sure you don’t miss out. Members can buy tickets for themselves and their guests for just £25, non-members tickets are £35. Corporate Supporters are entitled to up to five free tickets (please email for details).

Get your tickets here.

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Peter Murray


The London Society needs you

We’re run with a small committee that gives of its time entirely voluntarily, two members of staff that work a couple of days a week, a freelance events person, a journal editor and designer (and contributors) who put in inordinate amounts of time and effort to get each issue out.

That gives members around 50 events a year (which had over 2,000 people come to them in 2016), two issues of the Journal, the Society’s representation in the APPG, and this blog and our social media.

We want to achieve more – more events, more publications, more members – and need help from members to do so. For example:

  • Helping out at events: anything from setting up the room to reporting on the discussion to go on the blog (you’d get free tickets of course).
  • Contributing to the blog or the journal: got something to say? Perhaps you’ve got journalistic or other writing experience and are keen to keep your hand in – we’d love to hear from you.
  • Marketing and PR: we want more people coming to our events and more people joining the Society. Can you help us with that?

If you feel you can spare some time – whether from the list above or on anything else – please email

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