The population of London is set to grow by well over 1 million in the next ten years, equivalent to the population of Birmingham. That is a reflection on London’s continued attractiveness as a place to come to live and work as well as increased birth rates and longer life expectancy. But this good news will put pressure on London’s housing provision.
In the 60s and 70s the answer was to build concrete monoliths that quickly became crime hotspots and blighted the urban landscape. The quality of these homes was less than people deserved and only a few decades after they were erected they are being torn down. Yet near these disastrous mistakes you can often find high density homes built almost a century earlier which are still cherished.
Inner London’s population is still lower than it was at it’s pre-war peak so there is scope to increase our population without repeating the errors of the past. I was pleased to hear Eric Pickles reinforce this point in his interview with the Evening Standard.
We will need to be creative and bold if we are going to sucessfully meet the housing needs of the next decade, while suburban London will meet some of that need but Labour’s plans to build all over the Greenbelt isn’t the answer. Well designed, good quality, attractive home in both inner and outer London is what we need and our Victorian and Edwardian forbears have handed as the template of how to deliver it.