Up until now this blog has been about landscape, heritage, aesthetics, urban agriculture, you name it… but seldom about the one architectural product nearly everyone uses on a daily basis, that configures most of the urban fabric (whatever that means, especially in some areas), and that impacts the most in the quality of life: housing. It seems to be time to talk about that, so in the following series of post there will be some references to that question in different places and contexts. This means that I often do not know first hand the places or the buildings I talk about (unfortunately I travel less than I would like), and I would thank the feedback from anyone knowing firsthand the buildings, neighborhoods or policies and their results as direct users
The Supplementary Planning Guidance is a supplement to the housing policies of Mayor Boris Johnson’s 2011 London Plan (itself an iteration of the 2004 London Plan, passed under Labor Mayor Ken Livingstone). Its aim is a qualitative approach to the quantitative housing targets of the London Plan. It is not a bylaw or binding rule in the sense usually understood in contries in the tradition of the roman law, but it aims to orient the policies of the city in that matter. The document also integrates the results of a public participation process.
The London plan estimates a housing provision target per year of at least 32.200 units. New housing should be built in all boroughs, mainly on brownfield sites, and with a good link to public transportation networks. There is no “one size fits all” solution, but a will to adapt to the local conditions of each area, be it on terms of architectural typology or in terms of access to housing by households.
The document is organized according to the following points:
- Housing supply. A spatial distribution of growth and goals by kind of urban tissue are defined. Optimizing the preexisting housing stock use and the urban land are priorities, linking density to accessibility by public transportation.
- Housing quality. Comfortable homes and updating of the existing housing stock for technical and environmental reasons (including climate change) are presented in parallel to safety on the public space.
- Housing choice. A growing diversity of ways of life requires a diverse housing stock, and the possibility to go from one to another.
- Affordable housing. One of the most complex issues in any plan.
- Preexisting stock and the needs to invest to update its conditions to current standards.
- Social infrastructure (health, education and sports)
- Mixed use development, avoiding the configuration of new housing-only neighborhoods. A complex issue, as the businesses usually tend to group following logics that are not those of housing units.