hat good design and good planning are intrinsically linked cannot be denid. Both are necessary to meet the Mayor’s ambitious target of building the 66,000 new homes a year needed to meet the capital’s projected demand.
The Mayor rightly suggests that good design should be focused on density, connectivity and land-use. However, we need to ensure that this isn’t at the expense of the existing architecturally vibrant and eclectic neighbourhoods that history has helped to produce, which also happen to be extremely popular and desirable places to live too.
We have suggested that local communities be afforded the opportunity to input into plans at the design stage, that local authorities are free to set their own design standards, and that there is a presumption in favour of projects which “retro-fit” buildings before considering new developments on existing sites.
London has been well-served by considered design in the past – Victorian and Edwardian mansion blocks continue to be extremely desirable places to live – and there’s no reason why this shouldn’t be the case in the future. Well-designed mid-rise developments spread across the capital can provide solutions to the housing crisis, contribute to the character of a borough, while avoiding the campaigns against the sometimes inappropriate glass and steel residential high-rises.
Public space also plays a key role in sustaining inclusive and diverse communities. While the Mayor has acknowledged its importance, we would have liked to have seen this reinforced with a series of targets supporting a long-term view on the issue.
Finally, the London Plan sets out ideas to optimise housing density across the capital. We believe that this is impossible without the supporting infrastructure projects which open-up new developments across London and is essential to good design. Delays to infrastructure, where new housing has been previously permitted, creates frustrations for new and existing residents as they deal with inadequate transport links.
This is where the comments of our chief executive on the London Plan firmly come into play around Crossrail 2. The project will increase connectivity across London, opening up new sites in the South West, North and North East. It truly will be the key which unlocks London’s future development potential.