Incoming RIBA president wants London housing expo Picture 1 Incoming RIBA president wants London housing expo Picture 2 Incoming RIBA president wants London housing expo Picture 3 Incoming RIBA president wants London housing expo Picture 4

Ben Derbyshire argues 2,000-site demonstration of “what good looks like” would boost attitudes

RIBA president elect Ben Derbyshire has said London needs to do more to drive positive attitudes towards new housing development and called for a “2,000 site expo” to showcase design talent backed by greater political support.

He was speaking at an event hosted by New London Architecture and aimed at influencing the next version of the London Plan, the capital’s overarching development document.

Derbyshire, who begins his two year term on September 1, said London’s housing crisis – in which barely half of the capital’s new-home requirements are being delivered on an annual basis – was the result of a cultural impasse in relation to home ownership.

“What we’ve got to here is [a situation] that requires those who are well-housed in our city to essentially deprive the same opportunity to those who are not,” he said.

“The political leadership can and should do more about that.

“An idea is an expo; an expo of 2,000 sites all across the city, demonstrating to people in their neighbourhoods what good looks like.”

Derbyshire said he envisaged designs by small- and medium-sized architectural practices and small builders showing the potential to develop different sites.

“That would be a great way of stimulating people’s thinking positively about change,” he said.

The HTA Design chair said he believed “mid-rise housing” rather than towers would provide the main solution to the capital’s housing crisis, as well as  increasing the “very low density” of outer suburbs.

Other speakers at the event included Jules Pipe, London’s deputy mayor responsible for regeneration, who said City Hall was looking to create three or four new “opportunity areas” for the next London Plan.

The capital currently has 38 opportunity areas, including sites such as the Greenwich Peninsula and Old Oak Common. They are typically brownfield sites deemed particularly suitable for the delivery of large-scale housing and business development.

An electronic poll of 1,000 attendees at the event found a majority in favour of London mayor Sadiq Khan conducting a review of the capital’s Green Belt.

Chris Choa, a director with architect and consultant Aecom, told the event 2.5 million homes could be accommodated within a mile of existing railway stations in the Green Belt.

1 February 2017 | By Jim Dunton

This article first appeared on Building Design