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Are Villages The Answer To London's Housing Crisis?

Bibury, Gloucestershire

New research published by the London School of Economics and Political Science and Berkeley Group explores how urban villages could help address the capital's housing crisis. 

LSE assistant professorial research fellow and co-author of the report Kath Scanlon says London is a city made of villages, and heritage still matters. “Our response to the housing crisis needs to draw on those qualities that still make them so desirable. Every time we look at a site or designate a Housing Zone, we should think about the social qualities that place could possess, not just how it might contribute to housing targets or the economy,” she says.


"New London Villages" identifies six characteristics of a real urban village that developers should strive to create in their projects:

  • Small and intimate—it can be comfortably covered on foot.
  • Unique—an identifiable centre with its own atmosphere and sense of place with defined boundaries.
  • Designed for social interaction—ample public and greenspace, facilities for community events and a central hub to generate social interaction.
  • Locally driven and locally responsive—residents are fully involved in decisions that affect their community.
  • Functional—well-served by public and private transport with core services nearby such as a doctor’s surgery, food shops and schools.
  • A mixed community—a blend of ages, ethnicities, tenures, long-standing residents, newer arrivals.

With these six criteria in mind, the authors believe private developers should pick up the role of community development previously occupied by councils. In return, planning authorities might discount the price of land enough to encourage developers to build more much-needed homes.