1,220 sites across the capital are currently occupied inefficiently by single-storey retail and industrial shedsby Susan Emmett / May 21, 2018 / Leave a comment
To say that London faces an enormous set of challenges as it grows is a timid understatement. Calls for more housing have been repeated so many times they have lost their sense of urgency. With a population projected to grow by 70,000 a year up to 10.5m by 2041, London also needs schools, shops, amenities and space for tens of thousands of new jobs. Workplaces must accommodate all manner of economic activity from small start-ups to big logistics and a spectrum of offices and light industry in between.
To prepare for such levels of unprecedented growth, the Mayor has put forward an ambitious new London Plan draft which is expected to replace the existing 2016 plan by 2019.
At the heart of the new plan is the aim to make better use of London’s land by intensifying development within the city’s boundaries without encroaching on the Green Belt. London’s individual boroughs are being challenged to meet demanding targets and find suitable sites to accommodate a variety of competing uses.
Under such pressure, the tendency is to build upwards. But while there is a place for tall buildings, the drive for higher density will only work if the public accept it. To encourage local communities to embrace life in a higher density environment, we must think laterally too and champion a more familiar London vernacular. That means creating more mixed-use London-like neighbourhoods, with terraced housing, mansion blocks and mid-rise blocks set within traditional street patterns and combined with amenities and workplaces.
Done well, higher densities can be a force for good. A concentration of people means more economic activity to support better shops. It also means more council tax and business rates to support local services. A tighter knit urban fabric can be healthier by encouraging people to walk rather than rely on cars.
There is an opportunity to build these kinds of mixed-use traditional style neighbourhoods on a plethora of sites currently occupied inefficiently by single-storey big box retail and industrial sheds.
In Policy Exchange’s latest report, Better Brownfield, we identify 1,220 sites across London which we calculate could accommodate between 250,000 and 300,000 new homes alongside commercial uses. There is enormous potential to transform these sites into a more popular London style with higher densities integrated with the fabric of the city.
We suggest how this might be done by reimagining one of the sites in zone…