New London Architecture (NLA), the capital’s think tank on the city’s built environment, has announced a series of findings from their insight study into the London housing shortage. The research gathered by former Development Director at Peabody, Claire Bennie, has formed the basis of their forthcoming exhibition New Ideas for Housing. The exhibition examines London’s housing market, past and present, as well as the results of an extensive global ideas competition, set-up with the Mayor of London to tackle the shortfall.
Current statistics show that the capital’s population has now hit record numbers and is set to keep rising. It is estimated that we need 40,000 new homes every year for 20 years to deal with the current population increase and a further 9,000 a year, on top, just to catch up on the deficit. Current delivery of new homes stands at between 20-25,000 a year, this means the delivery of new homes has to at least double from its current rate.
Earlier this year, London’s population passed its previous peak of 8.6 million people, and future projections suggest there will be 9 million people in London by 2020, 10 million by 2030 and 11 million by 2050, adding nearly 70,000 people and 34,000 jobs every year.
The comparison in quality of life between homeowners and those renting properties is creating a widening gap amongst Londoners. Between 40-50% of all renting households in London are living in poverty whilst 40% of owner-occupied homes have two or more spare bedrooms. The proportion of 25-34 years olds owning their own homes has fallen from 59% to 36% in less than a decade and the current population figures show that 80% of all new housing is only affordable for 20% of Londoners.
A rise in renting is a common theme throughout the research with a third of all privately owned homes now rented out. Successful European models show that long-term renting can act as a possible solution, but this would mean a large-scale change across the industry in the way that housing is funded and delivered. Developers such as Argent are already looking into large build-to-rent developments that could change the way we live in the capital.
Contrary to popular belief that many of London’s developments second-homes for foreign millionaires, only 121,000 homes are recorded to be ‘empty’. However, there has been a significant growth in properties bought as investments, currently 61% of all new homes are bought with the no intention of occupying (Molior London).
80% of households bring in less than £45,000 a year and with house prices rising by 18% last year and living wages only rising by 2.1%, a revised approached to the capital’s housing market needs addressing.
‘Pocket’ or ‘micro-housing’ schemes, where residents live in spaces as small as 250 sq ft have been advocated recently as a possible solution. John McAslan, whose work includes the redevelopment of King’s Cross station and Crossrail at Bond Street, said radical changes were required if London is to remain a leading global capital. Many micro-housing concepts have been developed in the past such as the legendary 1972 Nakagin Capsule Tower in Tokyo (pictured).
Peter Murray, Chairman of New London Architecture, rallied this call for change by saying: "There is no silver bullet to solve London’s housing crisis - we need to look at lots of smaller and innovative contributions to fill in the gap left by the traditional providers”
Claire Bennie, Architect and Housing Development Specialist, and former Development Director at Peabody, commented: ‘Housing London is the pressing issue of our time: we now need to implement the best solutions from this competition without delay so that our young people can settle and thrive in this great metropolis.’
Greater London is a relatively low-density city and covers 152,200 hectares of land. If all of London’s residents were standing in a grid, they would be spaced 14m apart but if London continues to grow upwards and outwards then there is the potential to create 470,000 new homes over the next 20 years. There is currently an estimated 75,000 hectares of available space in Greater London and with the potential to create to 100,000 homes on sites as small as 0.25 hectares the density of city must improve. The NLA exhibition New Ideas for Housing will explore some of the most innovative solutions to the housing crisis and what is next for London.