Posted 23 Feb 2016
Only building on brownfield land won’t solve London’s housing shortage, says Shelter
New report highlights the variety of methods needed to tackle the housing crisis gripping the capital
Mayoral Candidates looking for a credible strategy to build the homes London needs must look beyond building only on brownfield land, according to a new report by Shelter and Quod.
The new analysis of the capital's land, carried out by planning consultancy Quod for the charity, reveals that the vast majority of brownfield land – two thirds – is already used for housing. Much of the rest is used for vital infrastructure such as hospitals, schools, and transport links, or already earmarked for development.
The report highlights that, to double housing delivery and meet the current demand for 50,000 homes a year using brownfield land alone, London would need the equivalent of four Olympic Park developments every year, in addition to all current development. Given that this project took seven years to complete, despite the clear deadline and mass public support, the implausibility of relying on similar developments to meet the housing shortage is clear.
Alongside brownfield land, the report examines a variety of options which could be used to address London's housing crisis, including:
- Building higher – High buildings have the potential to increase the number of homes in developments, but good design, and smart planning policy from the next Mayor, is essential.
- Green Belt – Building on some bits of the green belt should be an option, if done right. Smaller, controlled release of appropriate bits of green belt land could deliver substantial numbers of new homes.
- Garden Cities – Garden Cities outside of London could reduce economic and space pressures on the capital, but is likely to be a slow option, and is dependent on the compliance of local authorities.
Shelter and Quod are warning that there is no 'silver bullet solution' – for example just building on brownfield land, or only focussing on high rise developments - that can solve London's housing crisis on its own.
They are calling on the mayoral candidates to present a range of options that can tackle the capital's housing shortage once and for all.
Campbell Robb, Shelter's Chief Executive said: "Decades of failure to build enough homes means that there's no silver-bullet solution when it comes to fixing London's chronic housing shortage.
"If a candidate's setting out a solution that seems easy, they're not doing enough. This crisis is a challenge that we can fix – but only leadership, ambition, and a strategy that leaves all these options on the table can turn things around."
"Now's the time for the Mayoral candidates to show Londoners that they have the strategy to deliver the homes the capital needs – homes that people on ordinary wages can actually afford to rent or buy."
Barney Stringer, Director at Quod, said: "We cannot just carry on with past policies yet expect house building to double.
"The need for more homes is so great that we can't afford to rule out options like more tall buildings or green belt development.
"Everything we rule out means pushing the remaining options to greater extremes, and reduces the chance of ever providing the homes London needs. "
Shelter has been helping people fight bad housing and homelessness for 50 years. For free and independent advice from Shelter visit shelter.org.uk/advice or call the helpline on 0808 800 4444.