Making the Most of London’s Big Sites

Identifying new models of partnership and financing which would help transform the long-term potential of London’s Opportunity Areas.

London needs to make good use of its larger sites to meet its urgent need for new housing. Big sites are not the only solution to London’s housing crisis, but with permission for 100,000 homes, they represent a significant contribution.

The development of London’s large brownfield sites has been held back by commercial development models, which are often focused on short term and gradual delivery rather than long-term investment and delivery at scale.

The report identifies the most effective types of delivery structure – as well as discussing new ways and approaches to meet the challenges of developing these areas.

Key recommendations

Local authorities and other public landowners should:

  • Develop a clear vision for priority brownfield sites, while actively exploring joint-venture arrangements for developing underused land.
  • Base planning on masterplans that set out the character and spatial structure of new places and how these will integrate into surrounding neighbourhoods.
  • Take a long-term approach to achieving best value from the development of assets, retaining a stake in order to secure investment from and reduce risk for other partners.

The new mayor should:

  • Intensify partnership working with local authorities and developers to bring forward London’s large sites, by supporting the establishment of joint ventures for priority sites and using the mayoral development corporation model to intervene where progress is stalled.

Government should:

  • Support local authorities in taking a longer-term approach to securing best value, allow borrowing against future tax revenues, and exempt local authorities’ purchase of land for development from stamp duty land tax.