Earlier today, Matthew Weiner, U+I CEO, spoke at Bisnow’s event, London’s hottest areas: which parts are popping up? He was on a panel which sought to explore and predict the neighbourhoods of London which will see the local economy and real estate flourish in the coming years.
Whilst there was much discussion on areas where infrastructure is improving, such as those benefiting from Crossrail, something which really resonated with all panellists, and the audience, was working in areas where there is an active and forward looking local council.
Whilst there is no quick-fix solution for the housing crisis, Matthew highlighted two solutions we believe can help make it possible for the next generation of young workers and entrepreneurs to live, work and play in the centre of this great city.
LOOKING BEYOND THE CENTRE TO THE HUBURBS
“We define London slightly differently. We define it as anywhere with an hour’s journey time to the city. We want to, and need to, densify around good transport nodes, creating places where you can live, work, play and study.”
For us it’s not about identifying ‘hot spots’ across the capital, but rather having the creative acumen to identify and acquire the difficult sites which have previously been unfavourable and transform them into places which can be of tangible benefit to the local community. It is more of a ‘sweet spot’ for us.
A key part of this is looking to the outer boroughs of London which are becoming more accessible due to improved transport links and opening-up opportunities beyond central London.
It’s these ‘Huburbs’ where we see a lot of sites with untapped potential, that can deliver new homes and jobs for the local area. Ashford, Maidstone, Swanley and Woking are all areas we’ve committed to delivering in, with the promise of high quality, mid-market homes which have great links into central London.
As part of this, we also need to reconsider how we use the green belt. Government is naturally concerned about the emotive and thus political need to ‘protect the green belt’. However, in reality this often chokes delivery of housing and jobs.
TAKING A FRESH APPROACH TO SPACE
“Micro-homes have to be part of the solution for London. We’re out there looking for the sites to make them happen. Now we need someone to be brave.”
As well as looking out we need to look at doing more with the space that is available. Thinking differently about the ways in which we live in our homes and the space that’s required opens-up the opportunity to make use of the pockets of derelict sites currently overlooked throughout central London. These pockets are draining both economic and social value, making the city a poorer place.
We want to challenge the status-quo on space standards and provide a solution which adopts a new approach to the design and construction of homes, without compromising on one’s quality of life and re-invigorating the surrounding area. Not only that, it means that we can create places where the next generation can connect in the heart of a vibrant city such as London.
As Alok Sharma begins his new role as housing minister, we hope that he will galvanise the public and private sectors to take a fresh approach to housing delivery so that we can unlock this great city for a new generation.