London’s Planning Battles: The Heron Tower
The Gallery, 70 Cowcross Street, EC1M 6EL
Tube: Farringdon (Circle, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan lines)

Thursday, 30 May 6:30-8:30

We bring together former adversaries to discuss one of London’s most controversial planning decisions.

The Heron Tower Public Inquiry centered on plans for a 42 storey tower in the City at 110 Bishopsgate. The scheme’s backers included the Mayor, the City of London and world renowned architects. Opposing them were English Heritage, the City of Westminster and the pressure group SAVE Britain’s Heritage.

The stakes were high for both sides. The opposition feared for the future development of London’s skyline and the preservation of the City’s heritage amid a flurry of other plans for tall buildings at the time.

Those supporting the scheme argued that the City’s dynamism and role as a global financial center were threatened by the stultifying effects of a heritage lobby, memorably described by Ken Livingstone at the time as the “Heritage Taliban”. 

Speakers from both side of the argument, including Peter Rees, the former Chief Planner at the City of London, will reflect on what it was like to be involved in such a high profile decision.

With the benefit of hindsight, were the fears of the opponents justified? Did the Heron Tower decision change London for the better or worse? Come and join in this fun and informal debate to find out more.

The evening is the third in a series of six debates organised by RTPI London and The London Society that look at different aspects of London's urban planning and how the process affects us all.

The pressures on London’s parks
The Gallery, 70 Cowcross Street, EC1M 6EL
Tube: Farringdon (Circle, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan lines)

Thursday, 9 May, 6:30 – 8:30

With cuts in public spending impacting on London’s parks, how do we continue to fund and maintain these essential green spaces in the capital? Local authorities struggle to pay for their upkeep and encourage events, festivals and other money-raising activities. The Royal Parks became a charity in 2017 and is funded by a wide range of donors and trusts as well pop concerts and Winter Wonderland.

Join Tony Leach (Chief Executive, Parks for London) and Tom Jarvis (Director of Parks, The Royal Parks) as they explore how parks can accommodate private events as well as public access. Whether our parks are fit for purpose in the 21st century? And query whether they need a redesign in the face of changing attitudes to sports, fitness and wellbeing, walking and cycling, revenue generating events as well as the city-wide Green Grid and plans for a London to become the first National Park City.

Behind the Scenes: Broadgate
23-25 Wilson Street, EC2M 2TE
Tube: Moorgate (Circle, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan, Northern lines, and National Rail)

This event is now SOLD OUT!
Please add your name to the waitlist and you will be contacted should a space become available.

Wednesday, 1 May, 08:30 – 10:30

Join Charles Horne, Senior Project Director, British Land and Mike Taylor, Hopkins Architects to discover the vision to change Broadgate from its historical position as a financial fortress into a world class seven day mixed-use destination that will meet the expectations and aspirations of today’s market. 

There has been a profound change in the way we work and todays flexible work force are seeking a work place where the opportunities to work and socialise are seamless. Attracting and retaining talent today is as much about social interaction as it is the work itself and Broadgate will provide that environment.

Broadgate was a ground breaking development that was created to meet the demands of the market place. British Land's redevelopment is the next chapter of this legacy which along with the arrival of the Elizabeth Line will transform the 32 acre pedestrian campus into a world class seven day mixed-use campus for today’s market place.

Note: you will be touring a working building site, so please dress appropriately.  You will also be required to provide jacket and shoe size for your safety gear as well as a current mobile number should we need to contact you on the day.

Up and Down the City Road
Islington High St, N1 8XX
Tube: Angel (Northern line)

This event is now SOLD OUT!
Please add your name to the waitlist and you will be contacted should a space become available.

Saturday, 11 May, 11:30 – 1:30

When it was built City Road was described as the finest road in all England. It has fallen out of favour since then.  There are innovative hospitals, headquarters of household names and some inventions that changed the world.

Join Rob Smith for this two hour walk which will look at some of the roads history and why it ended up in a nursery rhyme. 

High Streets: The Value of the Public
Allies and Morrison, 85 Southwark St, SE1 0HX
Tube: London Bridge (Jubilee and Northern lines), Southwark (Jubilee line)

Thursday, 23 May, 6:30 – 8:30


High streets are at the heart of our economic and civic life, they’re common to all, the most public of public spaces. In this session three speakers will give their different takes on husbandry of the public realm and how to value it in various contexts.

Emily Gee works for Historic England, the government’s adviser on the historic environment. She has been working with historic high streets, listing special examples of retail, domestic and civic architecture that form their backbone; supporting heritage-led conservation/regeneration work.

Dr Sonja Oliveira, 
Senior Lecturer in Sustainability and Architecture at UWE is reimagining, re-establishing and reconfiguring the public realm of a high street in Weston-Super-Mare, working with stakeholders to figure out a joint action plan and provide design guidance. 

Prof. Matthew Carmona, 
Professor of Planning and Urban Design at The Bartlett School of Planning, (UCL) is Chair of the Place Alliance and an expert in public realm research. Matthew will present his latest project with TFL Street Appeal: The value of street improvements, in which he found that bettering the quality of London’s high streets gives substantial benefits to the users, occupiers and investors in surrounding property.

Image | ©Matthew Carmona

London’s Great Estates: Covent Garden
KPF, 7A Langley St, WC2H 9JA
Tube: Covent Garden (Piccadilly line)

Tuesday, 4 June, 6:30 – 8:30

The latest in The London Society’s series on Great Estates explores the remarkable evolution of one of London’s most famous and best-loved places: Covent Garden. At the heart of the West End, this district has a rich heritage dating back to the 17th century and earlier. London’s first residential square was built here, while the area was later home to the capital’s wholesale fruit and vegetable market, and became one of London’s ‘playgrounds', synonymous with theatre, street performance and cultural life. Today it remains one of central London’s most significant places for shopping, eating out and leisure. 


In this talk, Joanna Chambers, Joint Vice-Chair of the Covent Garden Area Trust – set up in 1988 to conserve the area’s historic architecture, environment and special, unique qualities – will take us through Covent Garden’s fascinating history and highlight the stories behind some of its most important surviving historic buildings. Charles Owen, Portfolio Executive for Seven Dials at Shaftesbury, and Simon Taylor, Property Director, The Mercers’ Company - both companies with landholdings in the area - will outline how recent new developments are seeking to maintain and develop Covent Garden as a distinctive destination while respecting its historic context, and consider the challenges and opportunities in effective stewardship of such a unique place. 

Future city – Inclusive city
Squire & Partners, The Department Store, 248 Ferndale Road, SW9 8FR
Tube: Brixton (Victoria line, National Rail)

Thursday, 20 June, 6:30 – 8:30

Can the urban design of a city be sexist? Ageist? Racist?

The future of London depends on people choosing to live – and stay – in the city.

That means creating accessible and inclusive places where people can comfortably participate and belong. But the people making our cities, from politicians to architects, aren’t the most diverse group of individuals.

So how are we doing? What is the user experience of the city today? And how can we plan for the future, designing an inclusive city where citizens thrive? How do we make sure all voices are heard and perspectives are recognised? How will climate change aggravate the wealth and social gaps in the city, and how can we plan for it? 

Danny Ball is a blind neuroscientist who studies how to develop urban spaces so they can be safely and independently used by all.

Sahra Bashir Mohamed is a data scientist working on initiatives such as diversifying tech finance and countering the effects of climate change in Africa with What Food Did.

Victoria Simpson is an architect and associate director at DLG Architects, most recently shortlisted for the RIBA Rising Star awards for driving the industry forward.

Christine Murray (chair) is the Editor-in-Chief of The Developer, founder of the Women in Architecture awards and former Editor-in-Chief of The Architects’ Journal and The Architectural Review.

The evening is the fourth in a series of six debates organised by RTPI London and The London Society that look at different aspects of London's urban planning and how the process affects us all.

Image | ©Arup, Cities Alive