Paul Williams was elected as WPA Chair on 16 March 2021. He sets out ambitions for his tenure below.
Although I begin my tenure as Chair at an uncertain and challenging time, there are many reasons to be optimistic for the future of Westminster. It is well-placed to adapt to changing patterns of work and how we spend our leisure time. If lockdown has taught us one thing, it is that there is no alternative to the sheer joy and excitement of a vibrant West End. Countless Zoom meetings from home are a poor substitute for the thrill of the sights and sounds, and incredible people, which make our great city.
Westminster City Council has always been, and remains, our most important stakeholder. Of course, national and London legislation plays a role in how the city is governed, but many of the planning and licensing levers to ensure the area adapts to the changes taking place are in the stewardship of the local authority.
Change is taking place at a dizzying pace and the response from the City Council has been extraordinary. From supporting its 250,000 residents throughout the pandemic – many of whom live in some of the deprived wards in the country – through to introducing measures to support Westminster’s 60,000 businesses, including transforming 60 streets of the West End with into space for people to relax and enjoy the city with al fresco dining.
I want to build on the close working partnership and collaboration between the WPA and Westminster council over the past year. By working together, the public and private sectors can help foster a more inclusive economy: providing more jobs and homes for local people, delivering improvements to the public environment, improving air quality, and reducing our carbon emissions.
Another priority for the year ahead is championing equality and inclusion. We need a much more diverse property industry that reflects the rich diversity of London’s population. I know WPA’s members are making positive strides, and our engaged and thoughtful NextGen committee is publishing excellent research and guidebooks. We want to do all we can to support this good work and progress the diversity agenda.
More than ever we need to collaborate with partners and other organisations to help drive forward key priorities in the interests of the city. The ‘four pillars’ of work in 2021 reflect our collective aspirations and I am lucky to build on the incredible work of the immediate past Chair Olivia Harris, have a committed and engaged Board at the WPA, and an able Executive team to help implement these ambitions. We will seek to tap into the knowledge and expertise of the wider membership too, to share best practice and innovative thinking. I am confident that together we can ensure Westminster recovers from the pandemic to be an even more dynamic, exciting, inclusive and resilient global city.
Paul Williams, WPA Chair; Derwent London – Chief Executive
Read more about the WPA’s priorities for 2021 here.