It is now widely acknowledged that CPULs have grown alongside three main urban prerequisites: population stability, successful public transport and borough balance.
London’s population had stabilised since about 2040 at nearly 9 million and both the city’s skyline and the city’s outline had ceased expanding.
This was mainly due to the reduced influx of people into London. Worldwide, there are now considerably fewer social, economic and political inequalities between countries so that moving for better life conditions has been replaced by moving for richer life experience which happens fairly evenly all over the globe. As stability does not mean zero-motion, London’s changing demographics are a constant source for cultural cross-fertilisation that is most visible in London’s vibrant diversity.
Another contribution to London’s stable population was that the trend to live single lives in single flats, as observed at the end of the twentieth century and predicted to increase during the twenty-first, had stopped around 20 years ago. Of the many reasons for this change, the most influential one has been a rediscovery of particular lifestyles, with increased numbers of people enjoying, for example, partner(s) or family. The accompanying new work and leisure activities have led to massive pilgrimages to urban amenities, revitalising London’s public spaces and its economic prosperity beyond expectations.
Thirdly, London also ceased expanding as a result of better use and management of space within the city. During the past 40 years, this allowed an increase in urban density of 20 per cent with a simultaneous increase in the amount of open urban space. Compared to the year 2001, London’s city boundaries now enclose 10 per cent more open space while holding two million more people.
This last measure was at the same time extremely important for the solution of London’s two other major problems at the turn of the last century – traffic congestion and borough imbalance – which have since then been constantly reduced.
Apart from the previously described changes to peoples’ opportunities for moving through the city, road traffic had been targeted with various measures to reduce the use of private transport. This led mainly to the establishment of state-of-the-art affordable public transport and the rediscovery of the city of short ways, i. e. integration of work/trade space within living spaces. The introduction of
CPULs played an important role as it enabled people to choose from and effectively use individual options ranging from walking via cycling, cycle taxis and delivery services to car sharing systems and network buses. Consequently, traffic congestion with its former huge impact on air and noise pollution, low road quality, high road accident numbers, stress, natural resource depletion, etc., has not been considered problematic since about 2030.
Borough imbalance, with its resultant modern slums, suburban sprawl, unequal provision/loss of open space, congestion, crime, quality differences in built developments, etc., has lost its grimness, though it is still an issue.
Over the last 40 years, the equitable development of London boroughs was supported by most public and private bodies through targeted networking in and between the boroughs. A beneficial borough balancing plan in spatial terms was the ‘green lung project’, which soon became part of the CPUL movement. It invited every borough to participate in the creation of quality local open spaces that were then connected to a regional-urban landscape concept.