Blog: CPA NextGen Priorities by Leila Gray

28 Mar 2024

This blog has been authored by Leila Gray, CPA NextGen Chair and Associate at Sheppard Robson.

As an architect what I find most fascinating about working in the City is the rich context within which we reflect, enhance and reimagine. I have had the opportunity to work and lead on a range of varied projects in the City, the most recent being London Wall West for the City of London Corporation; a collaboration between Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Sheppard Robson; a transformative reimagining of the former Museum of London site. The site epitomises so much of what I love about working in the City, from the ruins of Roman London, to the great Livery Halls and the pioneering post-war architecture of the Barbican Estate. The City has a great and varied historic fabric and is an ever evolving environment.

Post-pandemic, the City is at an interesting point following a period of unprecedented change in terms of how we live and work, how we meet and form relationships, how we collaborate, communicate, and learn from one another and by extension, how we view our workspaces and our cities.

The London NextGen Perspective report, commissioned by the LPA NextGen groups and published in 2022, looked at what was important to the next generation of workers. This highlighted the need for flexibility, purpose, culture, mobility and work-life balance.

My first priority as CPA NextGen Chair is to promote culture and leisure within the City, to support the Destination City initiative, with a focus on the next generation, their views, wants and needs. Understanding the requirements of young Londoners is key, to keep the City a vibrant destination for all to enjoy. The NextGen groups are well placed to provide that perspective and to support this important initiative through walking tours, events and new digital technologies.

My second priority is to support and further diversity, equity and inclusion within the industry, with a focus on the next generation, breaking barriers and dismantling stereotypes. There is great strength in diversity and collaboration between different people. We need to look at how we can come together to form diverse, equitable and inclusive environments. The NextGen group are uniquely placed to act as a bridge to those coming through, to provide mentoring and insight for those forging their paths and career journeys.

My third priority is to champion sustainability within the City and to support the Skills for a Sustainable Skyline initiative, with a focus on the next generation and addressing the skills gap. The City Corporation is a world leader in promoting sustainable practice in the built environment, aiming to be net zero by 2040, and leading the way with its Carbon Options Guidance planning advice note. As part of our recent podcast ‘Sustainability & the City’ Marie-Louise Schembri (Sustainability Director, Hilson Moran), key author of the planning advice note, highlighted that ‘globally about 40% of carbon emissions come from the built environment’. The climate crisis is the number one priority for our futures, and we must look to challenge and push forward the debate wherever we are and whatever our role.

The committee is looking forward to an exciting year ahead and working together towards a vibrant, inclusive, and sustainable City.

To find out more about CPA NextGen and to get involved please contact us at