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How will COVID19 shape our lives in the future? Will we all be desperate to get back to the office or will our attitudes to nine-to-five working patterns be changed for good? As part of our February programme social historian Judith Flanders looks back to the 19th century when work moved out of the home and into factories and offices; later in the month a panel of architects and planners will discuss the impact that the pandemic may have on attitudes to density and wellbeing.

These are issues which sit at the heart of The London Society’s century long-debate about the London of the future. Our central role in the delivery of the Green Belt was driven by an understanding of the health benefits of publicly accessible open space, as well as the need to curb suburban sprawl. The Society was key player in the development of ideas of city planning that led to post-war de-densification of London. Ironically, it is the constraint of the Green Belt today which is driving higher density housing development, particularly in the outer boroughs. 

Someone wrote recently, and I apologise for not recalling who, that during COVID19 “the time between the last coffee and the first cocktail has been getting shorter and shorter” - so we asked Dr Helen Naylor to give a talk on the city’s historic tipple - how gin has been a London staple from the days of William lll to the 21st century ‘ginaissance’.

While we may be able to drink each others’ health with a g&t over Zoom, and while new technology has allowed the Society to continue to deliver a lively programme of events, the virtual world is no substitute for physical social interaction or the vitality of the city centre and I hanker for the benefits of density and agglomeration.