A step change in tackling the housing crisis

In May 2018 The Mayor of London published The London Housing Strategy which you can access here.

See our accompanying blogs:

“The Role of Small Sites in Achieving London’s Housing Delivery Targets”


“2017 Draft London Plan – An Architects View”.

In the next decade small sites, less than 0.25 hectares in size, will make a significant contribution to achieving The Mayor’s Housing Strategy.

SLHAA Assessments show that small sites, subject to revisions in local planning policy with a ‘Presumption in Favour of Development’ will represent 24,573 new home completions per year over 10 years.  These sites have historically been  classified as unsuitable for small-scale development under a Borough-wide policy which conversely favoured ‘Presumption Against Development Approval’

Below we include key points from the policy outlined in the document:

Mayor, Sadiq Khan, wants every Londoner to have access to a good quality home that meets their needs and at a price they can afford.

The strategy’s central priority is to build many more homes for Londoners – particularly genuinely affordable homes. The Mayor believes this is the only way to solve London’s housing crisis over the long term. Doing so will require action to unblock stalled housing sites and increase the speed of building. It will require steps to diversify who is building new homes, as well as where and how they are built and for whom. The Mayor is clear that he wants to meet our housing needs while protecting the Green Belt and open spaces. That means London must build at higher densities and ensure that all parts of the city host their fair share of new homes.

Homebuilding in London has become dominated by a relatively small number of large private sector developers who focus on building market sale homes. This model mainly builds homes that only a small segment of the population can afford and therefore it cannot support the kind of increase in delivery that we now require.

We need to boost different models, such as builders delivering purpose-built rented homes, more small-scale developments in outer London, and more delivery by housing associations. Sitting alongside this, the industry itself needs to be transformed, which means addressing the gap in construction skills and attracting more Londoners into a career in the construction industry.

Most important of all, we need to see more genuinely affordable homes built by the public sector. It has become clear across the post-war period, and it is truer than ever today, that London’s housing needs will not be met without concerted intervention by governments at all levels.

Municipal homebuilding provided nearly two-thirds of London’s new homes during the 1960s and 70s. Today, many local authorities have active council home-building programs, but they are severely limited in how far they can go by an array of top-down regulations and financial constraints.

Below, we set out the Borough by Borough targets that are to be achieved during the next decade from sites which have previously been viewed as unsuitable for small-scale development.

The Draft London Plan 2017 - Part H2 (Small Sites)

The London Mayor has stated that:

‘Over many decades, London has evolved, resulting in an extraordinary web of distinctive residential streets, squares, markets, parks, offices, and industrial and creative spaces. And the built environment we see today – the legacy of previous generations – has not just shaped the way our city looks, but has had a profound impact on how and where we live, work, study and socialise with one another.

Throughout this evolution, London has seen waves of growth and our surroundings reflect these past chapters of rapid development and change’.

Today our city is a rich environment endowed by the vision of previous generations. The historic street patterns, buildings and public spaces that survive today have done so because they were authentic representations of their time, admired and respected by successive generations of Londoners and continue to contribute to the uniqueness that is London.

Planning Policy in London will and must change in response to the Mayor’s aspiration to increase the built density required by London’s housing needs. The extent of the proposed changes in density will require Planners and Londoners to accept the fact that significant parts of their built environment will need to evolve in character and form in order to deliver the housing densification needed over the next decade.

We must as Londoners promote the concept of  ‘Good Growth‘ and the guidelines for its delivery as set out in The Mayor’s London Housing Strategy.