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Stat of the Week

 
Kensington and Chelsea is the most densely populated London borough, with 70.6 dwellings per hectare
 
DENSIFICATION

London’s most affluent boroughs, Kensington & Chelsea, Islington and Westminster, are home to the capital’s highest density areas. Here a dense mix of both terraced housing and blocks of flats have combined with other commercial buildings to create vibrant communities, and efficient use of land.

If the current residential land in the outer boroughs had been built at the average density of the inner London boroughs, we would have 4.6 million more homes. While the redevelopment of existing outer borough residences is not feasible, it serves to illustrate what more can be achieved on the 60% of public brownfield land situated in the outer boroughs.

Many of the outer boroughs have had the lowest net addition to homes since 2008 despite ample space for development. More has been built in Tower Hamlets in the last eight years than in Kingston, Bexley, Richmond, Sutton & Enfield combined though it is less than a tenth of their size. The Mayor should explore ways to urge these boroughs to bring land forward and embrace residential development to meet the challenges the city faces rather than leaving other boroughs alone to do their part.

As the population of the city grows, and viable land to develop becomes increasingly scarce, especially within the inner boroughs, strategic densification and spatial redistribution can be a powerful tool in creating well balanced and sustainable cities.

 
SAN FRANCISCO
In an attempt to keep San Francisco’s character, the city planners impose zoning laws which prohibit certain types of building in particular areas. While well-meaning and preserving the character of the city, the system works in favour of incumbent residents as their house prices rise without the risk of any change to their environment or view. The zoning system limits the supply of new buildings and as the city has become more popular, rents and house prices have increased, making it unaffordable for the lower income city inhabitants who have to move further out.

Recognising that high rents are unaffordable for many of the city residents there is also some rent regulation. As this regulation is limited to buildings over 35 years old and not to newer stock it has a limited effect. Overall San Francisco, just like London, struggles with keeping the balance of maintaining the character of the city and the mixed character of its residents.
 
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