Tottenham is aiming to transform itself into what could be London’s first ‘21st century suburb’, armed with over £1 billion of private and public investment, the planning expertise of figures who masterminded the Olympics and the determination of the London mayor.
Those were some of the key points to emerge in a breakfast talk about the regeneration area last week at the NLA.
Haringey council chief executive Nick Walkley said that Tottenham is ‘a real place with energy and dynamism’ that he wants to build on, utilising a strong partnership that has grown between the council, government and regional players. The vision for the place, said Walkley, includes some 10,000 new homes and 5,000 new jobs, along with the opportunity to deliver around 1msqft of commercial space. ‘It’s a great place, and London’s next great space’, said Walkley. ‘This is a now project, not a tomorrow project.’
Important schemes in the area include John McAslan and Partners’ move to open a new N17 design studio, which will be a permanent architectural presence on the high road with apprenticeship opportunities for local people, while there will also be a low carbon lab for the University of Durham, and a fashion academy. These, said Walkley, all benefit from Tottenham’s accessibility, with Tottenham Hale just 12 minutes from central London. They will also help the housing push and aid Tottenham becoming ‘the destination of choice for those being squeezed out of other areas.’
Neale Coleman, the mayoral advisor for Tottenham and the Olympic legacy, said that programmes will have to tackle problems such as high levels of youth unemployment and deprivation, but that the mayor had asked him to take over because he wanted a senior adviser to spend ‘serious time working with Haringey, making sure we deliver for people in Tottenham. ‘I want to emphasise what a big priority this is for the mayor’, he said. London needs around 50,000 new homes to be built each year, added Coleman, and a lot of those could and should be in Tottenham, but it was crucial that they are high quality.
Robert Evans of Argent, who is the independent chair of the landowners group in the area agreed, adding that ‘good design and placemaking adds real value’ and that, since Tottenham isn’t part of the overheated market, there are opportunities to invest.
And finally Jerome Frost, director of planning at Arup, said a conceptual spatial framework will help guide opportunities for change in five key areas, over around five square miles. Tottenham figures in a ‘golden triangle’ with Cambridge to the north, the west end and City outperforming all other global capitals and the Olympic Park spreading London’s benefits to the east. This, along with Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium development and ‘leisure hub’ has led Frost and his colleagues to think of Tottenham as ‘the first 21st century suburb, ‘a fantastic opportunity to rethink a place’ that has lost its character, but through building on its merits rather than creating ‘a shiny new thing.’. ‘You really begin to think that Tottenham’s moment has come’, said Frost.
David Taylor, Editor, New London Quarterly
Capital Idea! Pecha Kucha - 28/2/2014
A crowd of eager Pecha Kucha fans crammed into Feilden Clegg Bradley’s Fitzrovia studios last night to hear about some capital ideas proposed to make London a better place.
The event – where speakers are given 20 seconds per slide to talk through their proposals – draws on the Capital Idea feature of the same name in New London Quarterly, where designers propose solutions to some of the problems or opportunities they see in the city around them.
Ideas last night ranged from a hireable pop-up box for events made from pressed metal put forward by Ian Simpson Architects’ Christian Male, to another street furniture-focused idea by Nicholas Hare Architects’ Joanna Day to reuse the much-derided KX100 telephone box as Wi-Fi enabled international pavilions to show the diversity of London. Alistair Huggett of Southwark Council’s talked through proposals to open up the area’s hidden backwaters, particularly around the viaduct in a bid to end the ‘severance’ it causes; John Robertson Architects director David Magyar, showed his vision for a decarbonised, pedestrianised city core with landform architecture and shared surfaces, while Ramboll’s Robert Godbold showed his innovative plan for a high-level walkway over the top of Oxford Street’s buildings. There was also a proposal for a similarly high-level cycleway with associated public realm spaces using redundant parts of the DLR from Ian Givin of Child Graddon Lewis Architects (short film here: http://vimeo.com/83708254). HawkinsBrown researcher Darryl Chen talked the audience through his vision of a new infrastructure while NBBJ double-act Christian Coop and James Pinkerton looked at a way of getting more out of the underground, including using travelators. Atkins’ Neil Manthorpe investigated the notion of creating an ‘i-Street’ to harness technology to help connect people, while PTEa’s proposal was in a similar vein – Scan London being a way of utilising smartphones and QR codes affixed to signs like the well-known system of blue plaques to allow users to read up information about buildings and places, potentially as a democratic aid to the planning process. ‘You could put plaques on buildings you’re proud of’, said PTEa’s Andrew Beharrell, ‘or at least those you’re not in litigation over.’
David Taylor, Editor, New London Quarterly
Delivering new housing models for London - 13/2/2014
With London’s population expected to grow by around a million and a half to ten million by 2030 radical solutions to more than double the rate of housebuilding in the capital were presented at the Delivering New Housing Models for London half-day conference at New London Architecture on February 12.
David Lunts, Executive Director of Housing and Land at the GLA, presented the Mayor’s latest target of building 42,000 new homes a year for a decade to reduce the backlog of 350,000 homes needed – the actual figure needed is 49,000 year, he added, and others have estimated that the real figure is 60,000 a year or more. ‘We have only built more than that in the 1930s when land and infrastructure was cheap and there were huge swathes of land to build on.’ In 1970, the peak year of postwar housebuilding, only 37,000 homes were built, he added. The average over the past few years has been around 16,000 and the best year was 24,500 in 2004/5.
The eminent planner and Bartlett Professor of Planning and Regeneration at UCL, Sir Peter Hall, said that the only way to meet demand was to look beyond London’s frontiers and even to the very edges of the South East. ‘There is a large gap between aspiration and reality,’ he said. ‘The figures don’t add up. All the new homes can’t all fit into London. They can’t even go next to London because Abercrombie’s postwar plan and the green belt he gave us is sacred.’ The only way to square the circle is by going beyond the “nimby frontier” to places such as Peterborough, Northampton, Rugby and Corby, 80-100 miles away from London but within an hour by train, to build ‘sociable cities’ modelled on exemplar developments in the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden, added Hall.
Ben Derbyshire, Managing Partner of the housing design consultancy HTA, argued that “densifying” London’s suburbs was the key change needed. “I disagree with Sir Peter Hall. I think we need to look within London and intensify the existing stock.” To reinforce his point, Derbyshire said that if all of the capital had the same density as the borough of Islington, there would be room for 20 million people in the city. ‘You could double the density of 10% of outer London that would account for 20,800 homes a year you need.’
Meanwhile, David Lunts said that London’s Thames Gateway was inevitably still a big part of the answer because there “is still an awful lot of land available for housing development”. New financial models will also be needed. David Lunts said he was satisfied with the £1.25 billion investment plan agreed with central government for 2015-2018 but he was pessimistic about the prospect of “fiscal devolution” so that boroughs could hypothecate their tax takes to build houses.
Examples were given of successful Private Rented Sector (PRS) schemes emerging all over London backed by powerful international pension funds. Marc Vlessing, Chief Executive of Pocket Living said: ‘Equity markets are starting to function better with money from places such as China and we need their equity to build. However the debt market is not functioning well and that is a real problem.’
Sir Peter Hall called for the return of Urban Development Corporations that could release ‘patient capital’ for the front end of development infrastructure to put the money in when none is coming back early on. Most agreed that all attempts to solve this problem will fail without further reform of the planning system. Marc Vlessing put it succinctly: ‘Unless we do something about nimbyism we are not going to solve this problem.’
Damian Arnold, Freelance Journalist
Sounding Board - 5/2/2014
Issues as diverse as streets and cycling, rights to light and what London might face following the local elections were on the agenda as the New London Sounding Board met at Store Street last night.
Head of delivery at Transport for London Lilli Matson was up first, presenting the work her organisation is doing in the name of what is now ‘a very serious mode of transport’. ‘Cycling will make the city a better place to live in, and more efficient in terms of transport’, she said. It was good to have the kind of long-term commitment that has been attained, with some £913 million to be directed at cycling over the next 10 tears, and an aim of increasing cycling participation by 400% over the next 10-15 years. Matson said the programme involves more superhighways, more segregated and properly protected space for cyclists, moves to make London more permeable and legible, mini-Hollands and quietways.
Sustrans’ German Dector-Vega enlarged on the theme, saying that it was time to ‘leave the dogma behind’ and face facts that cycling is a mass mover rather than a marginal part of society. People needed to move on from ‘campaigning mode’ so that it was seen as business as usual, but that would take consensus and perhaps 20 years to get things right. In Germany, said Dector-Vega, people are ‘puzzled’ about how we say we are ‘cyclists, tubists, or horsists’ – it was time to allow designers and engineers to excite people with projects which incorporate cycling in the same way as people are excited by schemes like the Shard or the Garden Bridge.
In discussion, points were raised about how difficult it can be to penetrate the ‘silos’ of TfL on other street schemes, such as Wellesley Road in Croydon, about the need for wider-spread education of the next generation; for good, lockable and waterproof enclosures for bikes in housing schemes, and the possibility that the Queen Elizabeth Park could be a showpiece for cycling. Points were also made about the necessity to change the presumption against cyclists in law on accidents with motor vehicles. And NLA chairman Peter Murray said a new construction cycling commission chaired by Mike Hussey should help the construction industry should ‘put its own house in order’ over the 75% of cyclist deaths caused by construction-related lorries.
Next up was the issue of rights to light, and a paper presented on the ‘very lively issue’ by PTEa’s Andrew Beharrell. The current arrangements on issues of rights to light were imposing a ‘significant burden of cost and delay’, especially on the provision of new homes for London, he said. This is bad for business, occupiers and future occupiers, meaning people were being denied a new home or forced to wait longer for one. ‘In certain circumstances the balance should tilt a little more in favour of development’, he said. Planning authorities are making often subjective judgments, so Beherrall is seeking a set of standards special to London, but there are also problematic areas over developers being held to ransom by potential victims who can come forward with their claims at any time – even sometimes after a project has been built, seeking more compensation. In some circumstances a Section 237 order can be used, which intervenes between parties, but the City’s Peter Rees said these are limited powers and it was not planning’s job to do developers’ ‘dirty washing.’ The only possible way forward, he suggested, was to forget about planning regulations and use building regs instead, with national standards on light which are ether passed or failed.
Finally, London Communications Agency’s Robert Gordon Clark ran through some of the history of elections and power in London, predicting that this time around in May we might see a turnout below 30%. The rise of UKIP was ‘not a flash in the pan’, he said, and the party could be successful in areas such as Havering. But he also predicted that 16 of London’s boroughs will not change, there will be eight boroughs which will have ‘fascinating skirmishes’, and eight including Croydon, Barnet, and Hammersmith & Fulham where things will be really tight. Nationally Gordon Clark predicted that there will be no change in a hung parliament, while in the mayoral elections in 2016 it was interesting to observe the shift to the left in Paris and New York. Might London follow suit? If Boris Johnson chose to stand again after all he would face far greater scrutiny of his achievements in his second term than he did of his first. As to Labour, Gordon Clark suggested that prospective candidates could include David Lammy, Sadiq Khan, Andrew Adonis, perhaps even Margaret Hodge. But he sensed perhaps that Tessa Jowell may run. Finally, he added, it was interesting to note a shift in the attitude of London’s councillors, as revealed in a poll LCA does every six months. Where once school places were the number one issue, affordable housing has moved up alongside, and will, he predicted, overtake it by some margin in the near future.
David Taylor, Editor, New London Quarterly
2014 Briefing: The year ahead - 31/1/2014
2014 looks set to be a hugely busy year for the GLA as it battles a housing crisis, pushes through its plans for more Opportunity Areas and looks forward to 2050 and beyond in its search for the capital’s infrastructure needs.
Those were just some of the messages to emerge from a special crystal-ball gazing session at the NLA this morning from a number of speakers across sectors including the transport, planning, and governance needs of London.
Stewart Murray, assistant head of planning at the GLA, gave an extensive overview of the many facets of the authority’s operations, in what he called prospectively one of the busiest years even beyond the hosting of the London Olympics. As well as the alterations to the London Plan, the GLA is also developing a longer term infrastructure plan for 2050 which will include not just HS2 and airports but perhaps even look beyond London’s boundaries. It will, he said, start to address where London will be if the population continues to rise at the current rate. But people who talk about London being a brain drain for the rest of the country were wide of the mark. ‘We’d be in the doldrums of recession if it wasn’t for London’s dynamism’, he said. Housing initiatives were essential to increase supply with higher densities in town centres and Home Zones being partial answers. But there will also be an increasing number of opportunity areas, said Murray with five new areas: Canada Water, Old Kent Road, Bromley, Harrow & Wealdstone, and Old Oak Common.
Whilst there is a ‘huge row’ about tall buildings at present, Murray added, the mayor was clear in his faith of the view management framework, and only ‘wants schemes of the highest, world-class quality, in the right locations’. Tall buildings make a positive contribution to London’s growth, he added – ‘London is a changing place; that is part of its success story.’
TfL policy manager Richard McGreevy said that on transport, 2013 had been a good year for policy writers – and those who print them. Highlights of the year ahead include the Northern Line Extension to Battersea, which is slated to begin construction pending a favourable decision in autumn, the continuation of Andrew Gilligan’s cycling vision, with a ‘one year on’ event in February, announcing winners in the Quietways and mini-Hollands programme. One way of accommodating the rise in population of a growing city was to sweat the assets more, McGreevy said, which is being done on the tube network with upgrades to lines and stations such as Tottenham Court Road, while computer controlled signals will help the roads and reorganising freight deliveries will free up roads for more cyclists. Crossrail 2 will also provide a focus for growth areas too, ‘but personally I think the year will be dominated by HS2’, said McGreevy.
LSE London director Tony Travers said that no-one could have guessed that London would become such a safe haven - ‘a big, safe bank’ – for international property investors, particularly residential. But the development community needed to beware of the rest of the country’s concerns about this, and the prospect of politicians consequently feeling under pressure to level the playing field as a result. Building on the devolution of Scotland and Wales, Travers proposes devolving the full suite of property taxes to give London’s government control to manage these. He also warned about anxieties growing over the amount of development Crossrail might bring, and the prospect of a growth of regular individual stand-offs between boroughs and the mayor.
Other presentations included Sam McClary, deputy editor of Estates Gazette, who said that 42% of investment in London last year came from overseas, and expected that £6bn to grow this year. ‘The future of commercial property looks glorious for this year but we do have to make sure we are not blinded by the brightness.’ And finally Mike Lowndes, director of Central London at Turley Associates, said that despite the government’s red tape challenge, we should expect planning to become more complicated. There will be a ‘spread of prime’ in residential, with the contour of £2000/sq ft spreading out and resembling the core more. ‘The value is to be won in the outskirts and the metropolitan centres’, he said. There will also be more mayoral call-ins of schemes, Lowndes predicted, but also a concerning move away from the provision of on site affordable housing in favour of community payments. ‘It will really be squeezed’. Finally, Lowndes said that the government’s permitted development rights policy to allow more conversions of office to residential had ‘completely missed its target’ resulting in fewer offices and more substandard dwellings.
David Taylor, Editor, New London Quarterly
Roland Paoletti Memorial - 30/1/2014
The great and good of architecture were out in force at the NLA last night to honour the life and legacy of Roland Paoletti – the driving force behind the Jubilee Line Extension.
Paoletti – who died last November – had a major impact on the capital, said NLA chairman Peter Murray, London becoming ‘more aware of the delights of good contemporary architecture’ through his work on the line. Although he doubted Paoletti’s strategy at the time of the first exhibition on the extension stations at the Architecture Foundation, said architectural author Ken Powell, the British-born Paoletti convinced him he was wrong, and that the marriage of architecture and engineering would help drive regeneration in east London and Docklands. ‘He made the JLE the world-renowned showpiece it is’, said Powell. Cabe’s Paul Finch said Paoletti’s work represented not what was possible but something that was symbolic of an attitude to public life. The JLE supremo told at least three architects that their stations were his favourites, Finch added, but he also believed that if an architect had not done a building type before, that should be no barrier to entry if the client had the track record. ‘He blew that away. It’s not necessarily the architect who provides the experience.’
The memorial also included representations from some of the architects involved in the station designs, including Westminster station designer Sir Michael Hopkins, who like Paoletti shared a passion for Lucca, where they both had houses. One of the key moves at Westminster was Paoletti’s support for Hopkins’ idea to leave the station box ‘quite raw’, instead investing in the passenger environment and escalators. Former MacCormac Jamieson Prichard man Ian Logan told how Southwark was in essence a homage to Charles Holden, along with references to shipping and boats. Paoletti would often call at 8.30 in the morning to talk about the ‘wee station’ (he spent time in Scotland), but also to talk about the house Logan designed in Wapping that he called home. London Bridge architect Chris Williamson was grateful to Paoletti for giving his practice, Weston Williamson, their first break, even if he described it as the station ‘no-one else wanted to do’, but Williamson hoped his stewardship of the JLE would positively influence the design quality of Crossrail and HS2.
Other highlights of the evening included Foster and Partners’ David Nelson, describing the JLE as being ‘like jazz’, with Paoletti bravely letting the architects ‘leave the hole’ at Canary Wharf. ‘We said we’ve created all this space – we think it will be wonderful. All he said was ‘yes’.’ Will Alsop said that although ‘we all loved him, he was a difficult bugger’. He wanted to leave the entire station open but had to resort to simply making it dark blue to attain something of a Piranesian quality, despite a LU committee woman responding that the colour choice would only make passengers think they were on the Victoria line. Alsop’s former partner John Lyall added they only realised they had won that battle – against Paoletti too - to create the blue mosaic panels when they saw Michaela Strachan on TV affixing the first – on ‘Blue Peter’. Paoletti helped ‘toughen them up’, said Lyall. ‘He taught us to stand up and be counted.’ He also ‘made’ Wilkinson Eyre, said Jim Eyre, recounting the time Paoletti put them in their place after Stratford. ‘He said ‘I made you’. And he was right’. Finally, Jo van Heynigen, who created West Ham station – the last station to be commissioned and the first to open, said Paoletti was a driving force for good in the capital, and for the architects in their collaboration – and sometimes struggles – with the engineers. ‘He supported us’, she said. ‘And we supported him.’
The winners of the ‘Don’t Move; Improve!’ competition were at the NLA this morning to talk through their designs.
Alma-nac partner Tristan Wigfall kicked off with his home extension winner, ‘Slim House’, which began with an email from an old school friend, who had bought an extraordinarily narrow-fronted building on St John’s Hill near Clapham Junction. Hemmed in by overshadowing neighbouring properties, the architect slotted in new elements with a lightwell in the centre, squeezing out as much space as possible including a shallow roof build-up. The sloping roof encloses the three-storey extension, while ‘cranked’ floor sections allow maximum daylight to penetrate deep into the plan. ‘It’s quite cathedral-like, given the narrow proportions’, said Wigfall. As a result of the project, there has been a good deal of interest from others seeking to maximise space, with varied motives. ‘We have been approached by quite a few developers’, he said. ‘Some reputable, and some less so.’
Next up was Malcolm Crayton, director of FORM design architecture, who took the audience through his Bermondsey Warehouse Loft Project – interior design category overall winner. Crayton said his exceptional photographer client ‘Eric’ had made the brave decision to strip everything back to the bones, with the architect coming up with a plan that separated the 11,000sqft space not into rooms but according to function – sleep, exercise, eat, relax, and work. Using the crisp white machine-made HI-MACS acrylic extensively throughout the project, Crayton created a block containing storage, bathroom and utility functions, along with a similarly detailed kitchen counter block, freeing up the rest of the space. ‘I sometimes think as a residential architect I am at war with corridors’, said Crayton. ‘I hate them.’ Other features included fitted shutters for privacy, a sliding wall for the sleeping area, cable management concealed in the wooden floor, and an extensive LED lighting system to change the mood. ‘Without good clients we get nowhere’, said Crayton. ‘Eric loves his flat and never fails to tell us so.’
The small office extension winner was a double act between HÛT director Andrew Whiting and architect Rachel Eccles. The project features four storeys of office space and two restaurant levels for a Greek Cypriot client (‘In fact we are the only members of the team who are not Greek Cypriots, so I’m learning Greek’, said Whiting), which the architects topped with a glazed extension. The task was to improve the net lettable space – around 1/3 of the total was being lost to staircases a dead chimney breast and so on, whilst capitalizing on good views across King’s Cross, but using materials and a palette that would stand up to the local noise and pollution. Whiting said Islington Council was good to work with, especially over borderline building regulations compliance issues such as that over stairs. ‘They were delighted it was a derelict building that someone was taking on and bringing back to life’, he said. Eccles added that the glass extension was intended to enhance the building as much as possible whilst still being low maintenance. It was praise indeed, she added, that an architect – Guy Holloway Architects – had taken the top floor of the new-look building.
Last but not least, Patrick Michell, partner at Platform 5 Architects, talked through his £70,000 ‘Shoffice’ scheme – the sculptural answer to a client that wanted work- and playspace plus storage in a small garden in St John’s Wood. Michell said early discussions on the small office extension joint winner had established that there would be an emphasis on form, with influences from Barbara Hepworth and James Turrell installations, and a required curvilinear form. ‘It was a project we couldn’t turn away’, said Michell. ‘It was just too interesting.’ The architects chose to sidestep planning by going down the permitted development route, creating a timber elliptical shell like a wood shaving that was assembled offsite in a workshop in Brighton, and featuring a desk cantilevered off a wall and steam-bent facia. ‘The client is now writing a book and the kids are enjoying playing out there as well,’ said Michell. ‘They haven’t climbed onto the top so far, but it’s only a matter of time.’
David Taylor, Editor, New London Quarterly
Tall Storeys - 24/1/2014
London is facing a wave of over 200 applications for tall buildings but the planning system is ill-prepared to deal with them and public are largely unaware of what this ‘radical change’ to the capital might mean.
That was the view of Nigel Barker from English Heritage this morning, speaking at a press conference to mark the build-up to ‘London’s Growing…Up!’ an exhibition at NLA on tall buildings this April. Barker said he was not against tall buildings per se, and certainly did not want to keep London preserved in aspic. But he said there was a ‘fundamental change’ afoot with schemes ‘leaping the river’ from their traditional locations without anyone having a sense of what this might mean spatially for the city. In his view it could result in a ‘wall of development stretching from Vauxhall through to Southwark’, with perhaps a dip at the South Bank. And he warned that tall buildings were being used too much by their proposers as the ‘panacea’ or answer to a number of problems. Barker believes that guidance needs to be reviewed, in part because of the way the notion of the cluster is changing every month, in a ‘weakened planning framework’. 'We’re seeing applications for buildings of 40, 50, 60 storeys as the norm', he said. Not all of the applications EH sees are as ‘thoughtful’, said Barker, as the Leadenhall Building currently being built by British Land and Oxford Properties, and designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners’ Graham Stirk. Stirk said that although working in a historic context was a challenge, ‘one of the things about constraints is that they are not necessarily restrictive.’ In a City environment composed of many diverse spaces the idea of being able to create public space in an area with very little was very important. So the building features a seven-storey void at its base rather than the usual podium to relate to the historic seven-storey buildings around and act as a ‘gift’ back to the public. ‘It’s a building we couldn’t have put anywhere else on earth’, he said. But it was a puzzle how greater densities in tall buildings had not brought with it greater affordability. ‘I can’t afford to live in any of the buildings I’m involved in’, he said.
Canary Wharf Group’s Stephen Andrews showed how the project at Wood Wharf – now reconfigured to major on residential provision rather than commercial, includes a 60-storey tower designed by Herzog and de Meuron which maximises the use of balconies. ‘London residential has become a currency that is traded globally, he added, but the important area, he said, is the space between buildings. Finally, KPF’s Brian Girard demonstrated how tall schemes abroad were more mixed in their nature: ‘The potential for tall buildings in London to evolve into mixed use buildings is very exciting’, he said.
David Taylor, New London Quarterly
Press Release - London’s Growing... Up! The rise and rise of London’s tall buildings - 23/1/2014
London’s skyline is currently going through a massive change. Over 200 towers are planned in the capital in an attempt to meet the needs of the capital’s growing population. So how will London’s skyline change in the next 20 years?
This April, New London Architecture (NLA) – London’s Centre for the Built Environment will explore this new skyline with London’s Growing... Up! Through the use of images, video, models, CGI’s and visitor interaction, the exhibition will present a past, present and future view of London’s skyline as the capital’s developers focus on building upwards rather than outwards.
There are over 200 towers, each more than 20 storeys, currently planned in London, around 150 of them new residential blocks. London’s Growing... Up! offers a timely exploration into this hotly debated subject.
Since the emergence of skyscrapers in London in the 1960s, the capital’s skyline has changed irrevocably. Visitors will explore the history of London’s high-rise architecture through images, models and construction videos, witnessing how iconic structures such as the Barbican and Centre Point set a precedent for the future of the skyline. A series of panoramic views of London chart the ever-changing landscape of London, from the 1960s through to the modern day and demonstrating how London will appear in 10 years time.
Famous structures including Canary Wharf, The Gherkin and The Shard are examined in the exhibition, looking at their context, their economic raison d’etre and the impact they have on our understanding of the city.
The exhibition will also explore the significant growth in high-rise residential development. High-rise residential was once only seen on council estates and glass skyscrapers were reserved for the business world, but the growing trend of luxury towers is currently providing the majority of new developments in the capital. Areas such as Nine Elms, Waterloo and White City will be explored, looking at why these new areas are attracting high-rise development and how luxury and affordable residential can coincide in London’s new vertical city.
Peter Murray, Chairman of NLA and curator of London’s Growing... Up! comments: “As London’s population gets bigger and bigger and new development for London takes place within the constraints of the Green Belt, we have to increase the density of the city. This results in our buildings getting taller. The huge number of towers in the pipeline will have a significant impact on the look of London. The exhibition will look at the current controls and planning processes to see whether they are fit for purpose and how they can cope with this upsurge in construction.”
Visitors will be able to have their say on what should or shouldn’t be in the London skyline. Touch screen will enable guests to rewind time and fast-forward to the future to see how London has, and will be, developed. Visitors will have the opportunity to remove or change the location of buildings they don’t like and even add buildings from other cities, making their own metropolis which will be posted onto the NLA’s Twitter feed.
Make sure you respond to the GLA’s Draft London Housing Strategy - 17/1/2014
The GLA is working hard to address London’s alarming shortfall in housing provision with a series of initiatives including getting more out of brownfield land and speeding up delivery of major projects.
That was the news from a breakfast session on the subject this morning at the NLA, at which Richard Blakeway, Deputy Mayor for Housing, Land and Property at the GLA and the authority’s executive director of housing and land David Lunts dealt with issues such as family homes, the Green Belt, self-build and the scope for more rental in the capital. This is in the run up to the end of consultation over the draft London housing Strategy, on February 17.
In the 1930s, said Blakeway, London delivered 80,000 homes a year in London – today it was essential that there should be significantly more contribution in Zones 3-6 and that a full range of housing should be catered for, including family units. But although London will continue to be a popular place for people starting careers and families, said Lunts, ‘there needs to be a better offer for that customer base.’ The current climate makes it hard for them to become beneficiaries of ‘mainstream affordable housing’, so the GLA’s strategy includes moves to improve standards in the sector, along with efforts to encourage more long-term investment in rental housing. ‘London will pioneer a lot of that because there is so much demand’, he said.
In some quarters there have been appeals for London to relax the Green Belt as a spur to getting more housing delivered, but both Lunts and Blakeway said this was unlikely given the national electoral mandate this would require. Besides, many of those sites would not have the kind of transport infrastructure required to support such developments. In any case, said Lunts, ‘I’m not as convinced as some that it would deliver vast numbers of homes’. Blakeway added that it was also very important not to overlook the opportunities represented by brownfield sites. ‘You can’t solve London’s housing problems by building homes in other parts of the country’, he said. Some areas – such as Ebbsfleet – did already have good infrastructure in place, along with proximity to the Bluewater shopping centre, so it was a mystery why no one is building homes there, said Lunts. Housing opportunities could also be better exploited near Crossrail stations, where benefits could be accrued by using both imagination and CPO powers. Similarly, there are still parts of London that are relatively inexpensive that Londoners are still resistant to move to, while outer London’s high streets and town centres could be stimulated by accommodating more housing. There is a challenge, too, across the whole public sector on its sites and particularly with the NHS, said Blakeway, but strides are being made with the mayor’s landholding. Some 85% of this 650ha or so is now either developed, in a development agreement or to market, he said.
Pace of delivery is also a problem, with a mix of tax incentives, planning and land assembly powers to drive development and speed things up. This will be supplemented by a series of 10 Housing Zones, with a discussion paper from GLA on that on the way and an aim to commission some by March. Another discussion paper will be produced on the London Housing Bank, aimed at using money for housing more ‘intelligently’. Lunts added that there is a move to speed through developments by looking at things the other way round, making funding and support mechanisms fit the project. The GLA also has a programme to support self-build but it was difficult, Lunts said, to see it as a major part of the picture, with the considerable barriers to housing in London making it not for the faint-hearted. By the same token, it was clear that providing an environment where more housebuilders get involved in London – perhaps from Hong Kong, Malaysia and China could be a potential boon. Finally, London needed to do better in terms of dealing with the ‘complex challenge’ of producing more older people’s housing, especially given projections in the numbers of over 85 year olds in the capital.
‘If you’re in the housing game you have to be an optimist, at least in the heart’, said Lunts. ‘London is impatient to have a serious conversation about getting homes built.’
David Taylor, New London Quarterly
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