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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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Peter Murray


There was a full house last night for this year’s Banister Fletcher Lecture given by Ben Derbyshire, President of the RIBA. We hope to have a write-up of the talk on the blog very soon, along with the slides from the presentation.

Ben mentioned several papers and projects in his talk, and we thought it would be useful to make some of those links available.

  • The London Society ‘Green Sprawl‘ paper is now out of print, but you can download a PDF here>>
  • Ben’s paper ‘Building Greater London‘ can also be downloaded (or you can buy a print copy) here>>
  • There’s more on the ‘Supurbia‘ concept on HTA Design’s site here>>
  • The RIBA paper ‘Ten Characteristics of Places Where People Want to Live’ is to be found here>>

We’d also be very interested to find out your views about the London Society and ways in which we can improve what we do – if you have ten minutes to spare, please have a look at our survey.

And don’t forget to nominate London’s Worst Public Sculpture – more information on that can be found here.

Finally, if you’re not currently a member of the Society we’d love you to join. Full details are here.

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Peter Murray


by Ben Derbyshire

In its second White Paper, The London Society urges a Royal Commission be set up to explore options to devolve more powers to the Mayor of London and the Greater London Authority to tackle the housing crisis, including forging greater co-operation across London and its neighbouring counties.

You can read the report on screen below, or to download the full PDF use the button below:

A limited number of printed copies are available for £10 each (post free). Please click here to purchase (please allow 21 days for delivery)

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Peter Murray


news_393_0_largeCongratulations to London Society trustee Ben Derbyshire who has been elected the next President of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), taking over the two-year presidential term from Jane Duncan on 1 September 2017.

Ben is Managing Partner at HTA Design LLP, a design-based consultancy to the home building industry, specialising in placemaking, providing project management, masterplanning, urban design, architecture, landscape design, planning, technical design, graphics, web and app design and other disciplines. He has built up broad-ranging expertise through involvement in much of HTA’s work in regeneration, masterplanning, housing and mixed use design.

Ben Derbyshire said:

Once again we find ourselves in turbulent times. In winning this election I am conscious of a great sense of responsibility owed to architects everywhere, in all corners of the UK and overseas. Jane Duncan has laid the foundations for change at the RIBA that I look forward to driving forward, when I take up the role of President. My primary goal is to champion architects so that they, our sister professions and clients, can advance architecture as the cornerstone of the well-designed and more sustainable built environment society desperately needs.(Full text here)

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