Towers remain part of London housing plan, says City Hall

Deputy mayor James Murray accepts role of high-rise in meeting capital’s needs

London’s deputy mayor for housing has said building new tower blocks will help address the capital’s housing needs – but insisted they are not the only way to deliver higher-density development.

James Murray told a meeting of the London Assembly’s planning committee that the capital needed to look at all the options about how it would make up for its housing shortfall, which currently sees just half of its 50,000 new-homes-a-year requirement delivered.

Answering questions raised by the publication of pre-London Plan update consultation document A City for All Londoners, Murray said higher-density development would be key for stepping up housing delivery in the capital.

“We know that if we are going to build at higher density, we need to have some really public and intelligent conversations about what does well-designed high-density living look like,” he said.

But he admitted: “One difficulty at the moment is that when Londoners hear the phrase ‘high density’ they assume very high rise is the only way of doing it, and very high rise has a role, absolutely, in the right settings, [yet] there are also lots of other ways of doing it, like through mid-rise.”



Murray said measures in City Hall’s new affordable-housing prospectus, due for publication later this month, would be part of the mix for winning public backing for new development.

“If we’re making the case to Londoners to support a lot more growth, at greater speed and higher densities, they need to feel that the housing we’re building has a chance of helping them or their families or their friends,” he said.

“Having affordable housing and having a decent amount, is a really important part of winning support for development.

“Beyond that, you need to make sure that you’re giving back to the community something positive as well, whether that’s open space or making sure the new homes are well integrated with the surrounding neighbourhood so that it’s not felt [to be] a separate sealed development.”

Deputy mayor for planning Jules Pipe used yesterday’s sesson to say that he was expecting London to get a significant funding boost for housing from the government next week.

“I’m sure there will be a very generous housing settlement for London in the Autumn Statement, at least that’s what we are hoping for,” he said.

He said the upcoming affordable-housing prospectus would outline how mayor Sadiq Khan “will be using” the expected funding.


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