Private Event

Capital Homes: Land and planning

This event has already taken place.

London faces an acute housing crisis. The need for solutions is intensifying, but the debate on how to tackle these challenges is becoming increasingly polarised. Ahead of the 2020 Mayoral election, the Capital Homes project will seek to revitalise the debate and build consensus around principles for intervention and sustainable solutions.

As part of the Capital Homes project we will be hosting a series of roundtables on London’s key housing challenges. This second roundtable will explore issues of land and planning.

The planning system regulates what can be built and where – but many argue that the system is complex to navigate, and a barrier to delivering the homes London needs. However, from 2004-05 to 2012-13 there were an average of over 50,000 planning approvals for new homes in London each year, and the stock of unimplemented planning permissions has risen to approximately 215,000 homes. While these figures fail to account for other factors that may delay development (such as design and materials), they do demonstrate a significant gap between permissions and completions of new homes.

The availability of land is also cited as an important constraint on delivering more homes, though London has accommodated growth of approximately 1.6 million since 2001. But some question whether the city is running short of space, as the New London Plan calls a halt to industrial land re-designation, and densities of new developments are soaring above the cityscape. By some estimations, the 2.5 million new homes that will be required over the next decade in the capital could be built on just 2% of the greenbelt. The concept is politically contentious and building on greenbelt land is not supported by the current Mayor of London. Thus, the densification of specific areas is likely to play an important role in housing delivery over the coming years.

Discussion points will include:

  • Constraints on land in London and implications for greenbelt and brownfield land.
  • Reforming the planning system to reduce risk and complexity in the process.
  • Use of zoning initiatives to create areas of focus and standardise the planning process.
  • New opportunities through increased densification and development of small sites.
  • Role of mayor in strategic planning.
  • Potential for unlocking public land and ways to manage this.
  • Incentivising an increased rate of house building through different tools.

This private event, chaired by Richard Brown, Research Director of Centre for London, will bring together experts, politicians, business, government and community leaders.

This event is invite-only. If you would like to register your interest to attend please email

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