The population of our big cities is projected to increase significantly by 2040. But physical growth is constrained by green belt, and these boundaries are unlikely to change significantly by 2040, given current political commitments. That implies densification.
The Greater London Authority (GLA) forecasts that this level of population growth in London requires at least 66,000 new homes each year. But as it stands, in terms of land use for housing, London is not a dense city by world standards. For example, inner London has a density of only 108 people per hectare compared to 212 people in Paris and 163 people in Barcelona – cities which certainly don’t feel overcrowded.
However, there is scope for densification within city boundaries, a topic that the GLA has been taking seriously through a number of research projects. It runs as a core theme throughout the new London Plan. Within commercial property, cost drivers and employee demands are also encouraging occupiers to adopt flexible space layouts that reduce space requirements per worker.
Figure 1: Cities’ density comparison