Business lobby group London First believes the Mayor of London and local authorities could support a new wave of housebuilding if they focus on making better use of land by supporting housing densification.
A report from London First, entitled Redefining Density, says London is actually not a dense city compared with the centres of other major cities such as Paris and Madrid. 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 London First say 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. A map of those areas with low density but good transport connections is above – the majority of the opportunity is in outer London and appears to include Park Royal, among other West London locations.
The report says 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.
However, London First say 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.
The report argues that there are opportunities to make better use of land through densification in town centres, parts of suburbia and on some public land, and that concerns over higher density development are often a legacy of past mistakes in urban regeneration.
Jo Valentine, Chief Executive of London First, says: “London is in the midst of a housing crisis and the business community believes housing costs are a major threat to the capital’s international competitiveness. We need London’s planning policies to give strategic support to building at a higher density, while being clear that the density of any particular development must be appropriate for its location.”