According to the JLL Universe of City Indices index – London remains the leading global city, based on a combination of 44 city indices, benchmarks and rankings.
JLL’s ‘Established World Cities’ rankings are based on seven factors: corporate presence, city gateway function, market size, infrastructure platform, access to talent, specialisation and innovation, and soft power.
London is one of just seven ‘Established World Cities’ alongside New York, Tokyo, Paris, Singapore, Hong Kong and Seoul.
London is at the top of its game and is open for investment and business but needs to make sure it tackles certain challenges head on and continues to proactively address housing affordability, growing inequality and air pollution.
London’s success can be attributed to its position and response to the 10 imperatives for successful cities, including thinking long-term, fostering innovation, uncovering hidden talent, good governance, development ‘smart’ strategies, ensuring affordability and transparency in investing in infrastructure, in which it comes out on top.
Examples of initiatives that align with the imperatives for success include the 2050 London Infrastructure Plan which demonstrates a willingness to think and plan long-term, while smaller scale interventions, such as the introduction of the Night Tube, show London’s determination to improve its existing offer, and provide a good quality of life and culture.
Digital infrastructure is also being pursued with Sadiq Khan introducing a ‘Connectivity Rating Scheme’ for London with WiredScore and new innovation hubs emerging at Imperial West on the commercialisation of university research, and Plexal, an innovation centre for entrepreneurs in Stratford.
Jeremy Kelly, Director in Global Research at JLL, said: “At the last count, there were more than 300 indices that seek to rank the world’s leading cities. With so many ways to measure and compare performance, it can be difficult to get the signal from the noise. This is why we’ve analysed 44 of the most robust city indices and benchmarks to create a comprehensive international city ranking. The result, London is clearly the world’s leading city, beating out New York, Tokyo, Paris, Singapore, Hong Kong and Seoul in a top seven of the world’s most powerful and globally-connected cities – the ‘Big Seven’.
“London is a magnet for talent, capital and businesses because of its scale, diverse economic base, global visibility, extensive infrastructure and appetite for tech innovation. It ranks top or near the top on numerous criteria such as the transparency of its real estate market, the presence of corporate HQs and soft power – its brand and identity.
“Many commentators would be quick to point out the headwinds London will encounter from Brexit. It is true that Brexit could impact London’s position as a European ‘gateway’ and have a chilling effect on talent moving to the capital, which in turn could have a negative impact on productivity, innovation and ultimately its attractiveness as a global investment destination. However, there are a number of positive city-wide policies in the pipeline that could mitigate its impact. The completion of Crossrail and the Thames Tideway Tunnel, alongside the 2050 London Infrastructure Plan, will ensure London will future proof and maintain world-class infrastructure. Policies aimed at making London a smart city, moves to upgrade digital infrastructure and the emergence of new innovation hubs, such as at Imperial West, will also provide substantial long-term benefits. Initiatives such as the introduction of the Night Tube are an example of a relatively minor change that has had an outsized impact on the attractiveness of London as a destination. The potential negative impact of Brexit on London cannot be ignored, however, the city is in the best possible shape to meet these challenges.
“Looking outside London, the emergence of Seoul as one of the world’s ‘established cities’ is a testament to private and public investment in infrastructure, as well as the city’s focus on digital connectivity and innovation. Nevertheless, Seoul faces substantial uncertainty due to tension in the region and fierce competition from other Asian cities. The city is also hampered by a lack of openness and transparency. The same regional tensions and competition also risks impacting Tokyo’s position, which alongside Paris, has seen a recent resurgence in its offering. Both cities are investing heavily in infrastructure programmes and should benefit from their respective Olympic commitments. Meanwhile, Hong Kong and Singapore have solidified their position as part of the world’s elite cities, although, it goes without saying that competition from cities such as Shanghai means that both destinations will have to continue to make infrastructure investments and support innovation to stay on top.
“The cities to keep an eye on are Beijing and Shanghai. China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ is already paying dividends and could catapult both cities into the top tier. In the US, New York faces national competition from Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington DC which are among the world’s top ten real estate investment destinations. Los Angeles is closest to joining the ‘Big Seven’ due to its scale, appeal, soft power and global specialisation