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Prince’s Foundation: ‘Mansion blocks not towers will solve housing crisis'

The Prince’s Foundation has slammed London’s ‘glittering towers of exclusivity’ and called on the profession to look at mid-rise ‘mansion blocks and garden squares’ to solve the capital’s housing crisis

The new report by Prince Charles’ charity, called Housing London: a mid-rise solution, blames poor design for threatening the ‘vitality and vibrancy’ of London’s streets, claiming that the capital was ‘facing acute housing shortages of both quality and quantity’.

It adds: ‘Faceless residential towers and poorly conceived mega-schemes erode street life and undermine the creation of strong, harmonious and enduring communities and place London’s historic architectural and urban identity under increasing threat.’

The findings come just weeks after research revealed that London’s skyline was set for an ‘extraordinary’ transformation with nearly 240 new towers across the capital in various stages of planning or construction (see London set for skyscraper boom) .

The Foundation’s report has suggested four key ways in which London’s housing shortage could be tackled; through intensification along key transport routes, infill on small to medium sites, large-scale new build, and estate regeneration.

Key facts

  • By 2012, the average house price was 12 times the median London salary
  • In 2013, house prices were 10 times a primary school teacher’s salary, and five times a doctor’s
  • 24,500 new homes will need to be built each year in London
  • 36,000 new households are expected each year in London
  • London’s expected shortfall of supply is expected to be 559,000 by 2022
  • 250,000 – 300,000 homes are needed every year in the UK
  • 100,000 – 150,000 new homes are built in the UK each year
  • The average London house price is expected to be £660,000 by 2020
  • Flats make up a sixth of the current UK housing stock
  • 50 per cent of the current UK housing stock was built before 1960

Extracts from the report:

‘The mansion block in particular should be celebrated as a local form to aspire to: allowing for a flexibility of living spaces, supporting shared green spaces and providing appropriate densities in sites across the city.
The mansion block form, along with converted Victorian and Georgian mid-rise houses, exhibit many of the strengths of well-designed mid-rise residential buildings and promote the type of walkable, sustainable urbanism that London needs as it looks to solve its housing problems. It is crucial in the response of
developers and policy-makers to the housing shortage, that density is not approached solely as the domain of high-rise towers.’

‘London’s new high-rises are glittering towers of exclusivity and luxury living - out of the reach of the average Londoners, and unsuitable to the needs
of many households. New development in London risks perpetuating ghettoisation, carving out more and more areas of the city which cater only to higher income residents.

‘It is crucial in the response of developers and policy-makers to the housing shortage, that density is not approached as solely the domain of high-rise towers. Nor should the quest for more housing result in sprawling suburbs which make poor use of precious land around the city.

Density is not solely the domain of high-rise towers

‘Neither vertical sprawl nor horizontal sprawl will provide London with the inclusive, sustainable communities that the city needs in order to thrive. In pursuing solutions to London’s housing problems, it is crucial that we learn from the lessons of the past and strive to build homes that themselves will stand the test of time.’




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