Community-led development could create new and more affordable homes for London and at the same time strengthen communities and have a positive impact on neighbourhoods.
London is very low density compared to other major cities. Straight-forward opportunities for small developments in London are hard to come by and large-scale housing developers are seen as the only way to deliver new homes. We could bulldoze and start again, at the expense of existing communities. Or we could look to improve the frayed edges by redeveloping underused space and expanding existing housing stock.
We believe that if small scale development were led by communities, with appropriate assistance from professionals, the result would be better homes, more connections and improved neighbourhoods.
Our proposal is to enlist residents to identify development opportunities in London via an app and website. The proposed sites would then be evaluated against data such as crime, housing need and density. From this information ‘micro-development zones’ would be established. The micro-development zones would have special planning policies and support from professionals to develop a variety of homes by and for the community. Developments could then be delivered by individuals, building cooperatives, or housing associations which would result in high quality homes throughout London.
Small in-fill developments have the potential to be crafted and loved by the community that delivers them. Working together with talented architects and other professionals, local people can deliver micro-developments which will raise the quality of an area while providing the maximum number of homes.
Would be micro-developers are put off by the challenges that face developing small sites.
Approaching a land owner, getting planning permission and sorting legal agreements is complicated, expensive and could potentially lead to disappointment. Even if you overcome those hurdles, you then have the challenge of building something of quality that is also affordable. Our idea is to create a more direct route for small scale development by providing a support network and supply chain for services.
By identifying underused space, recognising opportunities for intensification and creating efficient mechanisms for delivery, we can encourage change from the bottom up.
FCBStudios’ submission is currently exhibited at the NLA. Click here for details.
Kathryn Larriva will join the panel at the NLA Pecha Kucha 'Fresh Thinking for London Housing' on Monday 7th December 2015, to present fresh thinking around the delivery of homes for Londoners in an exciting evening of quick-fire presentations.