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The heirs to sustainable enterprise are the smaller adaptable regional cities

UK workers and businesses want cities of tomorrow to be more local, individual and sustainable, according to research by urban regeneration firm Opportunity Peterborough and sustainable development leader, Forum for the Future.


In their study, Sustainable Urban Enterprise: Creating the right business environment in cities, they found future generations will shun high streets, long commutes and demand 'walkable' city centres.

Neil Darwin, director, economic development at Opportunity Peterborough, said: "Future cities will be built on the foundations of localism and sustainability...

"Sustainable enterprise's heirs are not going to be the megacities of old, but smaller, more adaptable regional cities with dynamic centres, sustainable infrastructure, buildings and transport links.

"It is good news for cities such as Peterborough, which have put the environment right at the heart of their urban regeneration."

Due to a bit of serendipity, another report landed on my desk advancing similar concerns. In a study of approximately 40 cities around the world, Ricky Burdett, professor of urban studies at the London School of Economics (LSE), said the key drivers of economic growth will be the green economy, resource efficiency and low carbon working and living.

Burdett is a world expert in the urban environment. When he talks, mayors, property developers and investors listen.

The LSE Cities/Urban Age study examines wider, macro drivers of economic transformation among world cities. It is a fascinating and terrifying read. For example, 12% of the world's population now live in 150 cities. Guess how much of global GDP they account for? Nearly half. And by 2030, 60% of the world's population will live in cities. Which raises a fundamental question: is green good enough?

Ivana Gazibara, senior adviser at Forum for the Future, is certain. "Localised working spaces where groups of workers can connect with other teams virtually will become more common in cities," she said. "'Green' buildings are increasingly desirable among companies, while workspaces that remove the need for a long commute are more popular with employees. Cities that act quickly on trends such as this will be best placed to attract top businesses."

As the march of humanity towards living in cities continues, the question is, will they provide places that we want to inhabit, work and visit?

Michael Saxton is founder of Greenpoint PR