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

Rob Perrins: 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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