26 March 2019
On 30th January, our planning team attended London First's Building London - The Housing and Property Summit to share insight on tackling the city's housing shortages. Speaking at the summit on Venues Liverpool Street, our Head of Planning, Paula Carney, highlighted the need for both inner and outer boroughs to build more densely if they are to meet London's target of 65,000 homes a year.
Paula also chaired a panel entitled 'Density, Up and Out', inviting guest speakers from organisations across the industry, including Apex Housing Group, Notting Hill Genesis, Barratt London, Farrells, and Quintain.
A Q&A session then followed to further address the benefits of building more densely.
Paula Carney commentary - Alternative residential models offer the key to dlivering successful high densities
With London needing to build 65,000 homes a year, alternative residential models offer the key to delivering successful high densities. However, this requires more understanding between authorities, occupiers and developers.
Where developers and operators need to keep on letting residential units, it is in their interests to invest in ensuring that the units can and do meet the needs of occupiers on an ongoing basis. This offers a legacy of continued high quality and investor return.
Many alternative residential models include the provision of communal amenities, which can include co-working spaces, gyms, cinemas, dining areas, and external gardens. Such facilities reflect the way in which occupiers wish to live. The nature of these amenities is likely to change over time as occupiers’ demands change. Investors and operators will need to respond to ensure that their units can be re-occupied at the rental levels on which their investment is based.
Such schemes also offer the potential to seamlessly integrate affordable housing within them to the same quality as the full market units, with occupiers using the same entrances and facilities.
Current alternative models of housing include build-to-rent, co-living, retirement living, and student housing, but other forms will continue to emerge over the coming years.
The development of alternative residential models is ongoing. Local authorities need to keep up-to-date with how they can meet the desires of the ways in which people wish to live, and how their legacies work on an ongoing basis. This means more openness, engagement, and understanding between occupiers, authorities, and developers.
There is no getting away from it: 65,000 is a challenging figure and needs a step change of thinking. It is not going to be delivered by building traditional housing at existing densities. All parties must accept, embrace, and work together toward a new norm. The fear of re-creating the problems from the 1960s and the perception that high densities are bad must be put to bed. The comfort blanket of wanting to see development built to the scale of adjoining development or just a storey higher needs to be cast aside. It is the duty of all parties to work together to deliver new and exciting high-density residential development in a variety of different forms.