Thought 16 - Edge proposals for housing London - May 2014

London has a multitude of issues to contend with, many of them problems caused by success, others the result of failures, particularly of policy and timely implementation/intervention.

It is not intended to explore the range of these issues, only to examine a single one, housing in London, which, because it is interconnected to almost all other issues, will throw light back on them.

There are a number of, mainly well-known and discussed, issues:
• Massive demand
• Shortage of provision
• Unaffordability for the majority on ordinary incomes
• Over reliance on the private sector to provide increased numbers
• A poorly performing existing stock
• Use of domestic property in London as an investment vehicle for overseas capital
• Under occupation of many privately owned properties
• A decline in the social mix of many areas in London
• The need for high performance and climate adapted homes
The challenge is to increase the provision of housing in London while maintaining and strengthening community cohesion

A linked approach
Strengthen London’s boundaries (the green belt) and increase density within it
• London’s density (5,600 people/km2) is lower than some other comparable global cities e.g. Paris (21,100), New York (10,400), Hong Kong (6,800) & Tokyo (6,000)
• Develop around existing transport infrastructure nodes
• Intensify the town centres of outer London and infill existing suburbs

Build residential areas with mansion blocks of six to eight storeys
• Provide social, commercial and green infrastructure to support dense city living
• Ensure good communications links
• Avoid residential towers
• Ensure adequate space standards
• All developments to be mixed tenure

Aim for zero carbon communities
• Set higher and more ambitious carbon standards for development within London
• Make carbon performance data available/Make DECs compulsory in London
• Develop a low-carbon energy grid available to a range of building owners and managers to balance supply and demand

Clean the air to encourage/allow use of natural ventilation
• Limit use of private vehicles in London and enhance pollution controls on all vehicles – far fewer and far better vehicles
• Green the city fabric for maximum pollution absorption

Public sector homes delivery vehicle
• The private sector cannot deliver enough suitable homes on its own
• Instigate new London homes delivery organisation working with housing associates, social landlords and private developers to produce mixed tenure housing over and above current supply
• Encourage opportunities for self-build

Ensure a public realm designed to support dense city living
• Green the city – encourage small parks, squares etc. for the new generation of flat dwellers to use
• Radically improve conditions for pedestrians in London, including the provision of seating etc.
• Install cycle lanes etc. worth the name and other public facilities
• Consider using mobile phone footfall data to provide an income stream for areas of public realm based on usage

Retrofit the city in the face of climate change
• Retrofit existing buildings to make efficient and comfortable.
• Combat the urban heat island effect with green spaces & green buildings
• Develop the next generation of flood defences on the Thames
• Provide local drainage capacity – don’t drain the water table

Progressively charge for excess
• Utility bills to start inexpensively and rise in cost with usage
• High domestic space standards to carry premium rating
• Empty homes surcharge to be implemented across London
• Tax private parking spaces in central zones

Invest in the continued success of the city
• Ensure there are affordable places and areas for artists, start-up companies etc. to operate from
• Ensure workplaces are available across London
• Culture is critical to London but needs support
• Re-establish the London Challenge in Schools
• Build on the success of London Universities
• Develop lifelong learning initiatives across London
• Continue to improve London’s public transport system.

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