Dispersed Densification: A Solution to the London’s Housing Problem Using Small Sites | The Plan Journal

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James Dunnett

To meet the demand for more housing in London today, there is great pressure to either rebuild existing housing estates at much higher densities, or to build on the Green Belt. Neither solution is desirable. But there is an alternative–here called dispersed densification on small sites. The 2017 Draft London Plan of the Greater London Authority presented proposals to make much greater use of small sites (less than 0.25 ha
[0.62 ac.]) to meet housing needs. But it had no architectural model, and so this was largely disallowed by Central Government. A willingness to build taller on such sites could, however, have demonstrated the viability of that option. Planning policies currently aim to cluster taller buildings together near transport hubs and peripheral centers. This effectively requires the difficult assembly of larger sites. A willingness to accept taller buildings on a dispersed pattern would allow much greater use of small sites. Such buildings would enjoy an open outlook above the lower-density housing and gardens around them, enjoying the conditions of sun, space, greenery to which the architectural Modern Movement aspired.