The well-attended inaugural lecture with over 200 guests addressed the key questions London and urban England face. Looking into the future on this historical day, Professor Neuman offered a vision for how innovative infrastructure could help London stay competitive on the global stage after Brexit.
He told of his vision of revitalising the River Thames: “Most major cities in Europe, and many in the UK, have made major strides in recovering their waterfronts […] My vision for the River Thames is clear and pure water that is swimmable, fishable and potable; that has green banks replete with parks and paths on both sides. Pleasure boating, regattas and a more robust ferry network. A true blue ribbon that spans the metropolis. The River Thames is the liquid capital that connects London to the world.”
Professor Neuman continued: “We can paraphrase Phillipa Roe of the West End Partnership and say that the upgrade of infrastructure makes the best case to take London into the future. […] Clearly green infrastructure of all kinds fit into the vision I sketch. They are low cost, high value ways to enact parts of this vision. London has the opportunity once again to lead the way in green infrastructure, as it did with the landmark Green Belt, by invigorating the entire Thames watershed and by maintaining the integrity of the Green Belt.”
The lecture concluded in a lively discussion with the audience, including Deputy Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission Sir John Armitt’s insightful contribution. The participants agreed that good infrastructure is the key to a good quality of life in cities, well-being and sustainability; and that we must take an integrated, comprehensive and interdisciplinary view of infrastructure for it to effectively serve the contemporary city and the needs of its residents.