Creativity in London: Where Next?

Recently several of our clients have posed us similar questions:

·        Where is the next big creative cluster in London?

·        What conditions are required to support the development of creative industries?

·        How can I position my borough to attract creative firms?

London’s creative sector is one of its fastest growing sectors. Employment has increased 26% over the last five years and there are now over 460,000 creative jobs across London, 25% of which have been created since 2010.

The creative sector is also one of London’s most productive, with productivity 25% higher than the London sector average, and 35% higher than the creative sector nationally.

Recent trends have shown that there has been strong growth in the number of creative businesses in Eastern London over the last five years, with the strongest performing boroughs being the City of London, Waltham Forest, Hackney and Newham.

So, it is unsurprising that numerous boroughs and neighbourhoods within London are striving to attract, nurture, support and curate this sector in their areas. The Mayor of London has backed this with is commitment to develop creativity and culture through the Cultural Infrastructure Plan. This aims to support the capital’s creative and cultural industries, local and regional authorities, developers and other bodies involved in cultural planning and regeneration.

The emerging Mayor of London’s Economic Development Strategy suggest that creativity will remain a key sector in London and the draft London Plan supports the creation of specific Creative Enterprise Zones in locations which have headroom for growth. Three of the area’s in which we have worked (Tottenham, Balckhorse Lane and New Cross & Deptford) have already identified the latter policy as a route to supporting growth within their creative economy.

Many of the questions we are asked, focus around what conditions are needed for creative firms to thrive, which in turn attracts them to an area. Our recent work has uncovered several factors which are key in developing creative clusters:

The future performance of the creative sector in London will very much be determined by how well the key factors above (environment, connections, and availability & affordability of premises) are provided. The role of placemaking is important in providing the right types of conditions to establish a creative environment in which businesses will be attracted and flourish – the provision of cultural assets plays a role in helping to facilitate this.

If places in London want to develop their creative sectors further (and capitalise upon the impact this can have), they need to think broadly. Their strategy needs to link both to local specialisms and assets as well as London’s aspirations. Success is borne out of being able to make a strong, evidenced proposition to what is an agile market – this has created interesting competition within London where the local case needs to be made more deftly and distinctively than ever before.

Regeneris has undertaken several creative sector studies across London. We are also working with a number of London boroughs to develop their London Borough of Culture applications. For more information on how we could help you, please contact Chris Paddock or Barney Cringle .

Note: We have defined the creative sector using the DCMS Creative Industries Definition (available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/271008/Creative_Industries_Economic_Estimates_-_January_2014.pdf)

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