City of London to convert vacant space into homes post- pandemic

The City of London has announced that to “adapt to post-pandemic economic and social trends in order to remain a world-leading ecosystem,” it will convert vacant space into “at least 1,500 new residential units by 2030,” according to a new report published by the City of London Corporation.

‘The Square Mile: Future City,’ produced by the City Corporation’s Recovery Taskforce in partnership with Oliver Wyman, sets out a “vision” for the next five years with “detailed actions to enhance the City’s competitiveness and attractiveness.”

The report commits the City Corporation to a number of activities to deliver this vision, including “exploration of new ways to use vacant space,” and “working with providers and operators to future-proof the City’s communications, energy and transport infrastructure.” The corporation said it will also explore traffic-free Saturdays or Sundays in summer; and providing new and improved public spaces that include opportunities for culture and exercise. The Recovery Taskforce said that its aim is “to ensure the Square Mile is “the world’s most innovative, inclusive and sustainable business ecosystem as well as an attractive place to work, live, learn and visit.”

As such, the report focuses on three key aspects: “fostering an innovative ecosystem for businesses and talent; ensuring a vibrant offer that engages workers, visitors, learners and residents; and delivering outstanding environments that support people and businesses with sustainable buildings, high quality streets and public spaces.”


Over half of housebuilders concerned about land supply

Limited residential land supply is creating fierce competition among UK house- builders, according to a recent survey by Knight Frank.

Conducted among nearly 50 volume and SME housebuilders based across England, the new report showed land supply shortages, planning delays and policy uncertainties to be at the top of the list of barriers to delivery faced by respondents.

Over 50 per cent of those surveyed said that residential land supply was ‘limited,’ while only 2 per cent felt land was ‘abundant.’ When asked about the most pressing issues for the industry over the next three months, 21 per cent selected ‘availability of land’, while 18 per cent said ‘planning reforms and policy uncertainty,’ and 15 per cent selected ‘supply chain delays.’ For 19 per cent of larger housebuilders, changes to the Help to Buy scheme will be another key area of focus for Q2 of 2021, along with availability of land and planning reform.

In Q1, a third of all respondents pointed

to ‘planning delays’ being a challenging factor, 21 per cent selected ‘availability of land’, while just 7 per cent said the medium to long term outlook for the UK economy had been an issue.

Land supply shortages are leading to an expectation that prices will rise. When asked about land values, 55 per cent of Knight Frank’s survey respondents said that they thought prices would increase in Q2, with 38 per cent saying they would stay the same and only 7 per cent anticipating a decrease.

Justin Gaze, head of residential devel- opment Land at Knight Frank, commented: “We are seeing a sense of normality return to the market for the first time since the pandemic struck. “New sites are quickly going under offer at the top end of our price expectations, and there is a severe lack of land availability for both medium and larger schemes – so much so that we’re seeing housebuilders being increasingly competitive in order to compete on sought-after sites of 50 units and above.”

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