both agreed that high density housing needs to work in London. The two were amongst others speaking at an event which launched a new London Housing Federation report titled 'Capital Gains: Making Higher Density Housing Work in London.'
With the population of London expected to grow by 700,000 people or 400,000 households over the next 15 years the density debate is alive. The new report takes a uniquely holistic approach by straddling design, development, management and lettings issues that impact upon the success of high density housing.
Both the government and the GLA have recently called for more housing capacity in the capital to meet the expected household growth. In Europe and Japan density levels are significantly higher than they are in London. Yet we face the same shortages of housing and land supply.
Mr Livingstone warned that current population growth in the capital is on a scale that we haven't experienced since Victorian era. He argued that if we respond to the growth by building as we are, we will quickly eat into London's limited greenfield land. We need to make better use of the land that we have but 'just packing people in won't work'.
High-density housing is often associated with problems of the 60s run down tower blocks many of which are now being knocked down. However of all the developments featured in the report the tower block was the one with the lowest density. The report focuses on actual housing developments that tenants like living in. Its findings illustrate the need for radical changes to lettings and funding policies to ensure the high-density schemes of the future are successful.
Whilst congratulating the London Housing Federation for the report and recognising the need for higher density mixed use developments in London, Housing Minister Tony McNulty, MP warned there are no quick fix solutions to London's housing problems. He commented:
'Land is limited and more poorly designed low-density units is not the answer. Public subsidy can help but we can't house everyone from the public purse. Nor ca we divorce housing from the powerful effects of economic and social changes across our towns and cities.
But this is not an excuse to procrastinate or to give up hope. We must create more homes and widen the range of housing on offer to those who look to us for help'.
1 'Capital Gains: Making higher density housing work in London' is a London Housing Federation report written by Helen Cope and Avebury International. For publication purposes - The report costs£20 (plus£2.50 potage for the first copy and£1.50 for additional copies). For enquiries email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Violeta Reen on 0207 843 2219. A summary of the report is available here.
2 The London Housing Federation is a regional office of the National Housing Federation, the trade body representing housing associations throughout the country. The London Housing Federation campaigns for and promotes better homes for Londoners.
3 Housing associations are not for profit housing providers who build and manage homes for people in housing need. They are the main providers of affordable housing for homeless families and Londoners struggling to live and work in the capital.