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London mayor backs Norwich council housing for Stirling Prize

Goldsmith Street by Mikhail Riches with Cathy Hawley    2
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Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has given his support to Mikhail Riches and Cathy Hawley’s Goldsmith Street housing, saying the RIBA Stirling Prize contender ‘should win tonight’

Asked whether he thought a council housing scheme should win the UK’s most prestigious architecture prize, Khan said: ‘There is no reason we should take shortcuts with council hosing and I think it should win tonight.’

The 105-home project in Norwich is the first council-built housing development to be shortlisted for the award in its 24-year history. This morning bookmaker William Hill said it was almost ‘a certainty’ that Goldsmith Street would take the prize.

Khan – who was taking questions from journalists at the Homes for Londoners conference in the Royal Docks – said one of his mayoral priorities had been to invest in cash-strapped local authorities to provide the skills and expertise to deliver quality public housing.

He said: ‘I am a council housing boy myself; I grew up in the Henry Prince Estate. There is no reason we should take shortcuts with council hosing and I think [Goldsmith Street] should win tonight.’

The mayor said a council housing scheme winning the RIBA Stirling Prize would be a ‘huge badge of civic pride’ both for council housing generally and those working to ensure its delivery.

Khan also said he would ‘absolutely’ like to see the Stirling Prize awarded to a London council housing scheme in the future.

Commenting on the lack of expertise within local authorities that had simply ‘stopped building council housing’ before he took office, Khan said: ‘One of the reasons we set up Public Practice was to help councils skill up when it comes to design of new council housing.’

Public Practice – the groundbreaking social enterprise set up to place architects in influential roles within ambitious local authorities – today announced the next 30-strong intake of architects who will be embedded in local government planning departments.

In addition to Public Practice, the housebuilding capacity fund was also created by the mayor to allow councils the resources to build up their specialist teams. Khan said 2,000 council homes had begun in London last year and he was looking to hit 14,000 over the next two years.

He also said the £700 million annual grant from central London for housebuilding needed to increase seven times to meet the capital’s growing demand. ‘There’s no other way to get the homes Londoners need,’ he stated.

The AJ is the professional media partner for the RIBA Stirling Prize

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