As we emerge from the lockdowns and Covid-19 pandemic, our cities eagerly await a new normality and for the streets, pavements, cafés, bars and businesses to again become their vibrant heartbeat.

Amanda Clack

Amanda Clack

To stimulate city economies and get Britain back to work, investing and enjoying urban life, we need strong city governance and leadership, working with the private sector to not only reopen cities but reinvigorate and transform them to be even better than before.

Images of our cities during the past 14 months have sadly captured their emptiness, devoid of the people, cars and transportation that made them a focal point for economic and community life. There have been casualties, household names and brands gone, but also the small, boutique places that provided unique services. Transport capacity was diminished to a woeful 16% or less in London alone, open only to service travellers getting to essential workplaces.

But hope remains that cities will come back stronger than ever, with businesses increasingly optimistic of a buoyant recovery from the second half of this year. So what can city leaders do to kickstart reopening and provide new ideas to deliver economic and cultural stimulus, and help attract people and business back to the heart of urban areas?

To stimulate city economies, we need strong city governance and leadership

The City of London is taking the initiative, with Lord Mayor William Russell leading a ‘Reopening the City’ campaign. I am delighted to be supporting this as one of the Lord Mayor’s reopening champions, as the City seeks to recover from Covid-19 as fast as possible.

The City of London Corporation recently launched The Square Mile: Future City, a five-year action plan to create the world’s most inclusive, innovative and sustainable business ecosystem; an attractive place to invest, work, live and visit.

The City Corporation is launching the campaign to highlight the return of businesses, hospitality, culture and many other sectors and to galvanise organisations in support, phased around significant dates of the government’s reopening roadmap.

The campaign has two parts:

  • Engagement and activity from May to September with different groups, to mark the gradual return of different sectors, led by Lord Mayor visits and supported by communication opportunities, which will build worker, visitor and investor confidence; and
  • Marketing and communications resources that organisations can access to promote the broader City Recovery Campaign, showcasing the inclusive, innovative and sustainable City.

The campaign aims to encompass as many sectors of the City as possible, from financial and professional services firms to small businesses, cultural organisations and the livery companies, and will also connect with wider London Initiatives.

The Reopening Campaign is just one initiative. I am excited to see what else will emerge as city leaders and planners come together with built environment strategists to replan, redevelop and regenerate our cities, ready to meet the new normal of workplace agility and an awareness of what really matters for cities.

This will include meeting sustainability targets through green energy, electric vehicles and new innovative transportation modes, to drive down city centre traffic and enable more people-centric, vibrant and culturally interesting places to live, work, play – and, most importantly, invest.

Amanda Clack is an executive director and head of strategic advisory at CBRE