The facts are stark: in 2015 London’s population passed its previous peak of 8.6 million people and continues to grow. The population is likely to be around 10 million by 2030, adding nearly 70,000 people and 34,000 jobs every year.
The current net delivery of new build homes in London of all tenures stands at about 20-25,000 homes per year, a number that has not changed significantly in the last 15 years. This figure is made up of new build homes as well as homes created through the conversion of houses to flats. At least 40,000 new homes per year over the next 20 years are needed to house the new population, and a further 9,000 a year are needed to ‘catch up’ with current latent demand.
So the delivery of new homes has to at least double from its current rate in London. How are we to do that?
The private housing sector is at maximum capacity, there is a shortage of skilled labour, a shortage of some materials, and it is not to housebuilders’ benefit to radically shift the imbalance between supply and demand. Smaller housebuilders were decimated in the last recession thus making it more difficult to address the sort of smaller and more difficult sites that abound in the capital.
It is clear that there is no silver bullet that will increase the level of house building and make up for years of under investment. That is why the NLA sought new ideas from architects, contractors, manufacturers, economists and housebuilders. We wanted to look at a multitude of ways that we could implement to chip away at the big numbers that are needed.
We were not disappointed. This study illustrates a wide range of ideas and approaches to the delivery of new homes – some that can be delivered within the current regulatory system, others need a shift in policies in planning and funding. The ideas, in the main, occupy areas of delivery not covered by the major housebuilders and, taken together, can go a long way to making up the shortfall of the current system.