Peter Murray


Over 200 members gathered at the Jarvis Hall in Portland Place to hear Ben Derbyshire, President of the RIBA, talk about ways to deal with London’s housing crisis, and the challenges faced by architects and planners. Barry Coidan reports.

Building Greater London – or how do you make our city better when nobody wants new neighbours?

In setting the scene Ben painted a less than rosy picture of London’s housing. We have a broken housing market. The supply of new homes is well short of the target of 66k a year set by the Mayor of London. Rent takes up far too much of people’s take home pay – averaging around 57% with “Buy to Let” landlords unwittingly exploiting those who can’t afford to buy.

You could characterise London as a divided city. Divided over new developments with opposition to almost any – the haves excluding the have nots. Yet there’s space to build. London’s housing density compared with other major capital cities is much lower: outer London boroughs average 16 dwellings per hectare. London is also aging, in terms of its population and major infrastructure.

The capital has so much going for it! It is creative, it is sharing, energetic and productive. Ben’s manifesto “Let the People Build” drew on this energy and creativity to show how London could accommodate its growing population in a humane and invigorating environment.

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