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LISTEN IN: ‘The fractious, emotive density debate’

Our new report, Redefining Density, is the latest in our series looking at how we can solve the capital’s housing crisis, which began with the 12 step programme set out in Home Truths.

It says that City Hall and local authorities could support a new wave of housebuilding if they focus on making better use of land by supporting a programme of housing densification. London is not a dense city compared with the centres of other major cities such as Paris and Madrid.

Leaving aside areas of green space, the Green Belt and water, there are still many parts of the capital that have good transport links but low housing density The report explains that:

  • There are opportunities to make better use of land through densification in town centres, parts of suburbia and on some public land.
  • Concerns over higher density development are often an understandable legacy of past mistakes in urban regeneration, yet higher density does not have to mean high-rise and it shouldn’t mean lower quality.
  • Higher density areas also deliver many benefits to local residents, by creating the critical mass to support more shops, better and more diverse local services, and improved social and transport infrastructure.

LISTEN IN TO THE LAUNCH EVENT

John Dickie, Director of Strategy at London First, explains why London’s housing crisis is not only a social problem, but an economic one that is threatening the city’s global competitiveness.

Susan Emmett, Director of Residential Research at Savills, sets out the importance of greater housing density in helping solve London’s housing crisis. Drawing comparisons with cities like Paris, she explains the key points of the report, including why greater density doesn’t necessarily mean high-rise – and shouldn’t mean lower quality.

1.4M NEW HOMES

‘Redefining Density argues London is actually not a dense city compared with the centres of other major cities such as Paris and Madrid. In fact, it says that leaving aside areas of green space, the Green Belt and water, there are many parts of London that have good transport links but low housing density.

If those well-connected areas with a low housing density were to match the density of similarly connected but higher density areas this would notionally create approximately 1.4 million new homes across London.

This is around one million more than the current 10-year London Plan housebuilding target.

density-map

The report makes clear that the 1.4m calculation does not take into account actual local circumstances, such as the urban realm (including local infrastructure) and whether, or how, new homes might be built. It is ultimately down to the market and the planning system to assess this.

However, it highlights the extent to which there is the potential to make better use of land in London by moderately increasing housing densities in well-connected areas.

Contact: Jonathan Seager, jseager@londonfirst.co.uk

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