Supply, standards and affordability of housing in London

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Earlier this month, Keegans and ECD Architects joined the Policy Forum for London seminar to discuss supply, standards and affordability of housing in London.  The excellent line up of speakers included Professor Christine Whitehead from the London School of Economics, Alan Benson (Greater London Authority) and many more.

Professor Whitehead brought us up to date on the current state of play of housing in London and Alan Benson described the GLA’s policy priorities.  A panel of representatives from the National Housing Federation, Shelter, Karakusevic Carson Architects and the London Borough of Hounslow debated increasing supply and delivering homes across all forms of tenure and considered funding, land availability and development capacity.

The consensus was that the London housing market is not delivering affordable homes in sufficient volume. Whilst there are sufficient planning consents in place to meet demand for several years, housing coming on to the market lags demand significantly and what is delivered is unaffordable for many.

The recent construction industry recession has led to the demise of smaller developers, who would complete their developments quickly, to be able to start the next.  Today, most developments on site are large scale, with developers (understandably) regulating completions to avoid depressing sale prices. The cost of land acquisition within London, dictates sale prices which many cannot afford.

Keegans and ECD Architects are supporting London clients in making the most of existing dwellings by upgrading them to Decent Homes standards.  In Portsmouth, we are refurbishing 1960’s tower blocks to EnerPHit standard, allowing the homes to be certified as a Quality-Approved Passivhaus dwellings based on the same criteria as for new buildings, providing considerable improvement in respect of thermal comfort, structural protection, cost-effectiveness and energy requirements.  

Whilst there remains a need for affordable housing in London which must be addressed, bringing the existing estate up to decent standards serves to mitigate the difficulties faced.

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