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British workers and businesses want the cities of tomorrow to be more local, individual and sustainable according to a major new report unveiled today. Future generations will shun generic high streets, long commutes and demand ‘walkable’ city centres, the research warns, prompting the rise of more localised, digitally connected and energy efficient business environments.
Created by economic development company, Opportunity Peterborough, and sustainable development charity, Forum for the Future, the new study – “Sustainable Urban Enterprise: creating the right business environment in cities” – found that:
• Factors such as access to low carbon energy and ‘green’ buildings in cities are receiving an increasing amount of attention from business;
• Future workers will choose to work locally or remotely, in preference to long commutes
• Communities will look for more ‘localised’ services and working environments and shun ‘identikit’ high streets
• Businesses believe urban mobility (transport and information technology links), and a clean, green and culturally vibrant city centre that provides high quality of life for employees will be the most important factors in creating a desirable business location in the future.
• Traffic issues are the most prominent frustration with current business locations, with one in three business leaders citing poor public transport, traffic congestion or commuting times as their biggest gripe.
The report outlines a framework, which aims to help budding business capitals create a sustainable, thriving business environment:
• Proximity to market – better connectivity, as well as closer physical distance
• Communications links – remote and virtual access as well as low-carbon transport options
• Access to resources – lower consumption, local supply chains and higher quality of life
• Provision of utilities – independent supply streams and local energy generation
• Land/space premises – flexible and resource- and energy-efficient workspaces
• Access to talent – more green skills and green jobs
• Attractiveness of place – cities designed for people, not cars
• Government incentives – big infrastructure investments combined with small-scale community planning
According to Neil Darwin from Opportunity Peterborough:
“Future cities will be built on the twin foundations of localism and sustainability. This report shows that while on the one hand tomorrow’s city-dwellers are going to be much more mobile, web-enabled, work more flexibly and often in ‘green-collar’ professions, on the other, the cities in which they work will be competing harder for dwindling resources amidst ever more severe climate threats. As a result, the places where we will want to live and work in the future will need to become more local, accessible and environmentally-minded.
“It’s clear that the future heirs to sustainable enterprise in the UK are not going to be the big urban megacities of old, but smaller, more adaptable regional cities that have dynamic city centres and sustainable infrastructure, buildings and transport links.
“While enterprise is increasingly global in outlook, we are seeing local communities and resources at the heart of the day to day working of businesses. Gone are the days of generic high streets, rigid work spaces and long commutes. Which is good news for cities like Peterborough, which are uniquely placed to meet the localism and sustainability challenges highlighted in this report and have put the environment right at the heart of their urban regeneration.”
According to Ivana Gazibara from Forum for the Future: “Sustainability is becoming a key factor within business. Forward-thinking businesses will anticipate emerging trends and incorporate sustainability into their core strategy, including decisions about business location.
“Cities will also have to anticipate and adapt to changing demands brought about by massive challenges like climate change, resource scarcity and population growth. At the same time they need to be innovative enough to support existing businesses and attract new ones.
“For example, our research suggests that localised, smaller working spaces where groups of collaborating workers can get together and connect with other teams virtually are likely to become more common in cities. ‘Green’ buildings are becoming increasingly desirable amongst companies, whilst workspaces that remove the need for a long and expensive commute are becoming more popular with employees. Cities that act on trends like this quickly will be best placed to attract top businesses.
“Ultimately, sustainability is no longer the sole preserve of ‘megacities’. Second- and third-tier cities have huge potential to nurture innovation and stimulate commercial opportunity, based on smart, sustainable policies. Those cities that implement such policies will be highly attractive to the businesses of the future.”
For a full copy of the Sustainable Urban Enterprise report please click here.