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Scope for 100,000 affordable new homes by unlocking under-utilised land on London estates

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More than 100,000 new homes could be built on existing London estates by unlocking under-utilised land in disused garage blocks, above shops and on neglected areas on the edge of estates, according to a new report published today by developer London Square.

The Real Estates report revealed that inner London boroughs with good transport links such as Islington, Camden, Southwark, Hackney and Lambeth, offered the most potential for new affordable homes, according to the research carried out by Dataloft and commissioned by London Square Partners, which focuses on working with the public sector to provide affordable housing. Current partnerships include a joint venture with Peabody, redeveloping the Holloway Prison site where more than 60 per cent affordable housing is planned, and with Clarion Housing Group to deliver 100 per cent affordable housing on sites in Neasden, North-west London, and the second phase at Staines-upon-Thames.

The analysis showed that Islington has a potential capacity for nearly 18,000 new homes. Camden’s estates could provide more than 15,000 homes, Southwark just over 15,000, Hackney 13,000, and Lambeth 12,231. In the heart of the capital, nearly 8,000 new homes could be provided in Westminster and nearly 10,000 new homes in Kensington & Chelsea.

Research by Dataloft revealed that the 713 social housing estates identified in the research cover an estimated land area of 2,578 ha, with the potential to deliver up to 101,948 new homes, in addition to the 272, 356 they already provide. This figure would reflect high-density development, according to the report. Medium-density development would deliver more than 50,000 homes.

This estimated land area is more than double the 1,074 ha of public land across London identified in 2016 in City Hall’s public land register which coincided with the launch of the Public Land for Housing Programme.

Over half the estates identified in the study were built between 1955 and 1982, with 20 per cent estimated to have been built between 1965 and 1972, and 12 per cent pre-dating 1900. Many of these estates would benefit from updating through refurbishment, with under-utilised land developed for new homes and the provision of community facilities. Working in consultation with estate residents to identify neighbourhood needs would be critical to the success of such projects, according to London Square Partners and Dataloft.

The report states:

Large areas of land in single ownership are key to these opportunities. Even where individual homes have been sold into the private sector, common areas on the estate remain under the stewardship of local authorities. Our research suggests that, even given conservative assumptions, there may be space for over 100,000 homes on under-used land. This can only be realised with careful regard to financial viability, design consideration and social impact.

The under-utilised land appropriate for densification might be disused garages, single-storey retail blocks, or neglected areas on the edge of estates. The creation of new homes in these often ageing estates, together with associated additional facilities and enhanced green and open spaces, would breathe in new life, while preserving identity and community.

Adam Lawrence, Chief Executive, London Square, said:

Providing new affordable homes in good, well-connected locations is vital for London’s economy. Land is in short supply in the capital, particularly large areas in single ownership. By working with local authorities and housing associations, this report shows there is the potential to create a significant number of affordable homes on land owned by London boroughs. This offers a real opportunity to build homes for people who want and need to live in Greater London.