James Murray calls for a new approach to housing density

Nick Myall
Friday 15 Sep 2017

James Murray highlights key points from the Urban Challenge 17 Manifesto at the London Housing Symposium on Tuesday

Giving the keynote speech at the World Architecture News London Housing Symposium on 12.9.17 London deputy mayor for housing James Murray said that London needed to "design density in a new way. Rather than focussing just on a single typology. Density means thinking about all the different typologies that work in different parts of London." 

"One of the reasons why that is so crucial is because we have to build on small sites, we have to build on outer London, and we have to build in areas where until now they've not been accustomed to so much building at such high densities. Certain high-rise typologies are not going to be appropriate, but we have to crack that problem".

He went on to say that in recent years London’s story had been one of, “economic success, and housing failure”, pointing out that its costs more to rent a one bedroom flat in London rather than a three bedroom house elsewhere in the UK. 

He then picked up on two points from the WAN Urban Challenge Manifesto for Change. Firstly, calls for more public sector assistance in supplying land for new housing, saying that City Hall and government played a critical role in this process. 

He also highlighted the Manifesto for Change’s emphasis on developing a "new social contract" to rebuild trust that housing development was being undertaken in people’s interest.

He said: "We have to make sure that not only is mayoral land coming forward, but also land in the wider public sector is coming forward".

Commenting on the fact that 80% of homes are affordable to only 8% of Londoners, he said we need to get a higher percentage of affordable housing through the planning process by streamlining it for affordable homes.

He commented on how the mayor's draft housing strategy, published last week, proposed to bring forward more land "whether that's through a land fund to buy, assemble and prepare land, or whether that's through getting extra capacity in City Hall to increase our ability to intervene more proactively in the land market, or whether that is about using new and existing powers around compulsory purchase and land value capture".

Touching on the need for a new "social contract" with Londoners with regards to housing development, he said: "Londoners are more supportive than ever of building new housing, so let's not squander that opportunity by building things that they don't want to be built. Let's make sure when we are building new homes that they have a decent level of affordable housing, so that people have confidence that the homes they see being built are likely to help them and their families".

At the end of the Symposium there was an audience voting session where key questions relating to the housing crisis were polled - Follow this link for the results WAN UC site.

Click here to view WAN's London Housing Manifesto

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