WSP has said building homes above London’s existing NHS buildings could solve the capital’s housing shortage
Research by the consultancy has found that 77,000 new homes could be provided by redeveloping existing NHS hospitals to include floors of flats above the buildings.
This could represent 20 per cent of the 400,000 homes needed in the next decade according to the Mayor.
WSP’s estimation is based on its analysis of 79 individual existing NHS buildings in London, allowing for 100m² per apartment and using a mixed height overbuild development strategy, with a combination of 6, 12, and 18 storeys. It only considers hospital buildings without A&E facilities, which would cause specific planning and construction issues.
If all the new residential buildings proposed above hospitals included 18 extra storeys the strategy could provide 118,000 homes, more than a quarter of the estimated need.
Director at WSP Bill Price, said: ‘If private developers were allowed to invest in this land it would help plug the gap for more homes in London as well as provide state of the art healthcare facilities to replace those that need a facelift or are not currently being used. Obviously there are a few hurdles that would need tackling but this is done elsewhere in the world, for example the USA, and there’s certainly no technical reason why it couldn’t be done.
‘However the point is not that we should go out and redevelop every hospital into an apartment block, but that we need to start thinking creatively about our housing woes, challenging the status quo and looking at how we use the land available to us.’
A recent report by the London Health Commission found that £50-£60million was being spent annually on maintaining NHS buildings that were either not used or not fit for purpose.
WSP is currently carrying out further work with UCL to investigate how many homes could be provided on publicly held land in London.