London’s high streets are capable of delivering tens of thousands of new homes over the next decade, according to data in a report co-authored by architect Maccreanor Lavington.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson this week launched an action plan aimed at driving the further evolution of the capital’s estimated 600 shopping thoroughfares by providing new homes, business opportunities and better transport links, based on the report’s findings.
The Greater London Authority (GLA) said there was a ‘huge amount’ of hidden space for development to be found above supermarkets and health centres, behind railway stations and on top of car parks, and that a £9m fund to support high-street development projects would open for bids in the autumn.
‘Accommodating Growth in Town Centres’, which Maccreanor Lavington wrote with Peter Brett Associates and Graham Harrington Planning Advice, suggests that the capital’s high streets could supply 5,500 new homes a year on sites larger than 0.25ha and a further 10,000 homes on ‘edge of centre’ sites over the next 10 years.
It calls on pan-capital bodies London Councils, the London Enterprise Panel and the Outer London Commission to play a greater role in helping individual town centres to produce’proactive town centre strategies’ and develop innovative delivery tools.
The GLA said particular areas of interest likely to attract funding included land-assembly, building developer confidence, plans to bring empty shops back into use with flexible workspace, and supporting the set-up costs of high-street development companies.
It added that awards would be ‘directed to those places with the most coherent and comprehensive approach to housing intensification and high street diversification’.
Johnson said the capital’s high streets had been under great pressure from the rapid growth of retail parks and internet shopping but had much more to offer than retail and were key to the London economy.
‘We are delivering a comprehensive plan that will do everything possible to protect and support their incredible vibrancy,’ he said.
The GLA’s Action for High Streets document informed by the report can be read here.
Maccreanor Lavington’s research, entitled Accommodating Growth In Town Centres, can be read here.
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