Bruceshaw Headline Sponsor Surface Design Show Opening Night Live Debate
Bruceshaw was delighted to be the headline sponsor for Surface Design Show’s Opening Night Live Debate which titled “A crisis for the next generation – is London just for the wealthy?”. This insightful debate outlined the numerous initiatives that are being undertaken through a variety of government agencies and local authorities that may tackle the housing issues facing London. However, there is clearly more to be done. London’s culture and diversity needs to be protected and that can only be done with the provision of affordable housing to ensure that London remains a city for all.
The debate was hosted by Peter Murray, the Chairman & Co-founder of New London Architecture, and the panel consisted of: Andy von Bradsky from Design and Delivery Adviser, Housing-led Regeneration and DCLG, Zohra Chiheb form Project Architect at Levitt Bernstein, Louise Wyman from Head of Strategic Land, Homes & Communities Agency, David Lunts who is the Executive Director at Housing and Land as well as from Greater London Authority and Ben Derbyshire who is the President of RIBA and chair of HTA Design.
David Lunts of the GLA reminded us that it was only since the 1990’s London has been the City to be in with an explosion of popularity and population. Whereas in the 1970’s, there was very little investment and people were trying to leave the City. Additionally, in 1990, 25% of 16 to 24 year olds owned their own homes and today that figure has dropped to 5% with the fastest growing sector of buyers are over the age of 55. The GLA is taking a number of steps to improve some the of related issues, such as: a database of criminal landlords in a move to improve good practice in rental housing, working with employees to develop Tenancy Deposit Schemes, introducing London Living Rent (subsidised rent) and a ‘first dibs’ policy for Londoners on developments.
Andy von Bradsky kicked off the debate by saying that 25% of Londoners are under the age of 25, a youth ‘bulge’ that has not been seen since the 1960’s, and cannot find somewhere to live due to the poor affordability of housing. Thus, the young are unable to hop onboard the property ladder and therefore are often still living at home, supporting David’s point. Governments are, however, recognising these problems with schemes such as ‘buy as you go’ and the rise of shard living in the private sector.
Louise Wyman outlined that her new Homes & Communities Agency, at only 4 weeks old, has 80,000 hectares of land for development, £44 billion to spend on new housing, planning powers and a skilled workforce. With resources like this and an agenda to ensure that London remains the diverse, culturally rich and a creative hub, several answers may be available for the issues outlined in the debate.
Zohra Chiheb explained that in the 60’s, 42% of housing in London were council homes, however this has dropped to 8% resulting the 5% of London households who are on a low income are deprived of housing needs that are not being addressed. There needs to be a higher percentage of new developments given over local sales with a protracted structure to land deals where the landowners and developers commit to a reasonably long-term partnership deal. This can only be made possible with political intervention and funding.
Ben Derbyshire emphasised on the point that all the best ideas in the world need funding and support. There is opportunity within London for thousands of unique solutions, ingenious ways to utilise pockets of land throughout the City which must be encouraged.
With hundreds of attendees, the debate has ensured that the discussion of housing for the next generation in London will be one to continue. Additionally, look at the Bruceshaw Voice about the Housing Crisis for a further insight into other issues and how they can be resolved.