Leading architects have demanded the end to the unbridled rise of ‘super-dense’ developments in London spurred by a ‘frenzy of avarice’ from investors
According to a new report, the capital could lose its unique character as its streets and green spaces are overshadowed by the surge in high density residential towers.
These are the chief worries of architects from HTA, Levitt Bernstein, PRP and Pollard Thomas Edwards who today (22 May) fired their latest salvo in their campaign to raise worries about accommodation cramming.
In their new publication, Superdensity: the sequel, they flag up their latest thinking about ‘the immediate social and environmental impacts of very dense developments and their long-term sustainability’.
‘We…observe that super density – [what] we’ve dubbed hyper density when it’s over 350 homes or dwellings per hectare – derives not from London’s distinctive and popular urban forms but from global development patterns.’
Is London becoming a victim of its own success?
‘We may well ask, is London becoming a victim of its own success, meeting demand by sacrificing the very distinctiveness which makes most people want to live here?’
Ben Derbyshire, managing partner at HTA, told a breakfast briefing the report aimed to warn Londoners that vibrant street life in the capital was put in peril by high-density developments.
The city risked being swamped by poorly designed high density developments, fuelled by a ‘feeding frenzy of avarice’, he added.
Andrew Beharrell, a senior partner at Pollard Thomas Edwards said the country was ‘sleep-walking into hyper dense development without proper regard for the long-term consequences’.
‘We haven’t yet reached the densities of Hong Kong but we are heading that way,’ he told the launch event.
The drive for super-dense developments was driven in part by the surge in investment from Asian countries, he added.
‘Most buyers are from Asia and are familiar with this kind of thing. It is spreading beyond London to become the norm for regeneration projects.’
He continued: ‘We are worried about some of the things our clients are asking us to do. It is time for a review.’
The report includes a number of recommendations to safeguard the capital against harmful super-dense developments. These urge:
- More mid-rise development to meet London’s housing needs
- Resisting hyper-density with a presumption against developments of more than 350 homes per hectare. These “should be confined to exceptional locations and subject to exceptional justification”.
- That towers are integrated with “street-based typographies”.
- An active promotion of street life
- Consideration given to making service charges in high density developments ‘affordable for all’.
The recommendations urges policymakers against giving into ‘collective amnesia’.
“We have spent the last 30 years trying to understand an correct the mistakes of post-war development.”