CPRE Double Counting and Air-rights Potential in London

CPRE Times

More than half a million homes could be built in London without sacrificing green space by copying Paris and replacing buildings with five-storey apartment blocks, a report says.

Low-rise development over schools and commercial buildings would help to save the green belt and protected land without blighting areas with new tower blocks, according to research by the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

Its report says there is enough “airspace” above existing one and two-storey buildings in the capital to provide at least 500,000 new homes.

CPRE says that developers are targeting greenfield land for housing because this yields higher profits.

..the report urges that all suitable brownfield sites should be built on before Greenfield Sites are released

The redevelopment of existing low density non residential development already comprises well over half of all development in London.  London only builds  20,000 or less units a year, we need to build 50,000.

Around half of the units identified are in strategic industrial areas, many are planned for release in the London plan and again would be double counting, greatly increasing this rate would lead to developments in the middle of industrial estates and loss of jobs in London.  If we exclude these buildings and 10,000 a year from these sources already coming forward then over the 25 years of a strategic plan thats 10 years supply, ‘ This would simply lead to the rapid development of brownfield bringing forward by a decade the point at which major Green Belt loss would be needed if you take the ‘runs out’ scenario.

However if these sites outside strategic employment areas are already supported by planning policy why arn”t they coming forward at a faster rate? Because they are not viable.  So what is the CPRE suggestion?  Drop affordable housing and CIL requirements?

Given viability concerns only building on brownfield means building too little, less than half of what London needs.  It gives priority to ‘suitabkle’ before ‘viable’ and ávailable’.

This is not to suggest we should be adopting a more YIMBY approach with positive zoning and planning, but this is a simplistic non-solution that avoids the reality of the market.