Half of Londoners have considered leaving the capital due to virus, says report

The virus crisis has made Londoners more disillusioned with city life than people in other major European centres, new research suggests.

A survey of over 5,000 residents across London, Paris, Madrid, Berlin and Milan by engineering firm Arup showed that half of those questioned in the UK capital complained that amenities were too far away.

Arup’s survey was based on the concept that city dwellers enjoy a better quality of life when essential facilities are within a 15-minute walking or cycling distance from home.

Londoners are furthest from this ideal, as on average, they live a 23-minute walk or cycle away from essential services, such as parks, grocery shops, schools, medical facilities, leisure centres, gyms and cafes, said the report.

Arup said the distance was just 13 minutes in Madrid and Milan and around 16 minutes in Berlin and Paris.

Londoners also have to travel the farthest to get to a park, field or playing area, compared with their European counterparts, the study indicated.

Three in five Londoners questioned said they have considered leaving the capital due to Covid-19, more than Paris (41%), Milan (39%), Madrid (37%) and Berlin (30%), said Arup.

Two fifths of Londoners temporarily moved out of the city at some point during the pandemic to live somewhere less populated, more than in the other cities in the report.

European city dwellers generally have seen some improvements to life during the pandemic, including less traffic and a reduction of air pollution as well as having more time to spend with their children, said the report.

Malcolm Smith, Arup’s global masterplanning and urban design leader, said: “The pandemic has brought us closer to the vision of the 15-minute city as, for many, it has cut out the commute.

“It has shone a light on the importance of developing cities in smaller modules, with essential services concentrated around community hubs.

“The move to the 15-minute city will help us hold on to the things we’ve gained temporarily – less traffic, cleaner air and, for many, more time with family.”