Rob Perrins: GGC, why Berkeley are committed to creating successful, sustainable places.

On 6th April 2016, IPPR launched its report 'London: Global Green City. A plan for the new Mayor'. The Berkeley Group sponsored the research and hosted the launch event at the Royal Arsenal. Rob Perrins opened the conference speaking about why Berkeley are committed to creating successful, sustainable places.

Royal Arsenal is an historic part of London which deserves a quick introduction.  

People have lived and worked here since the Iron Age. Henry VIII built warships 300 yards from where you sit. The Royal Arsenal then became a weapons factory and top secret laboratory during two World Wars.  So secret in fact that it didn't appear on the London A-Z.

The factory and lab were closed in 1967 and by the 1980s this area stood empty and derelict behind a vast wall. 20 foot high. Cut off from Woolwich. In 1917, 80,000 people worked here.  By 1997, it was just a few dozen.  

The transformation started in the year 2000. English Partnerships drew up a masterplan and Berkeley was one of four bidders. I always smile at the fact we pitched a scheme for 595 homes that would be finished by 2005. Now look at it!

Today, we are working hand in glove with the Royal Borough of Greenwich on a 30 year project to transform this site into a beautiful place for people to live.

Together, we have already created over 3,000 jobs, restored 20 Grade II listed buildings; and invested over £15.5 million in the community. Together, we are turning this site into a working, living, breathing community. In my opinion, that's what sustainability is all about.

Creating beautiful places which stand the test of time, where people can lead healthy and fulfilling lives. In a nutshell, that is Berkeley's sustainability strategy.  

We do a lot on energy - supplying 65% of our homes from low carbon or renewable technologies. We do a lot to promote climate change adaptation. We do a lot on sustainable transport.  But our biggest contribution is creating beautiful places and strong communities. That's how I think the development industry can really help make London the world's greenest city.  We should put people at the heart of development; and build places that work for everyone.

What I love about the Royal Arsenal is not just the heritage but all the amenities. This place has a museum, café, gastro pub, restaurant, pharmacy, creche and a brilliant on-site brewery.

The building we are in right now hosts a farmers market every other week. In fact the coffee and teas today are from one of our stalls. These are the real-life manifestations of what we call 'sustainability'.

I'm actually a geologist by training. So the environment is a real passion of mine. As the MD of Berkeley, I try to integrate this agenda into everything we do.

I'm proud and delighted to support the research which IPPR are launching today. It's a thoughtful, challenging report.

I have no doubt that London can lead the world on this agenda. But politicians act much more decisively if they think that business, councils and communities will back them.

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