Preserving the Future: London at Breaking Point?

If London were condensed to the dwelling density of Kensington & Chelsea.
If London were condensed to the dwelling density of Kensington & Chelsea.

At the beginning of June, BSA participated in the London Festival of Architecture by opening our doors to visitors and provoking a discussion with them about the future of London.

Both shocked and hooked by recent figures that suggest the population of the capital is to rise by a million from now till 2021, and that 800,000 new homes need to be built to support this, we decided to decipher what this really meant for London, and present the information in a way that was relatable to the situation of the city today. The presentation, made using  government statistics and census data, can be found at this link:


The population of London is growing fast.

By 2021, the population will have increased to 9.4 million (an increase of 1 million people in 7 years).

The supply of housing is falling dangerously short of demand.

The existing dwelling stock totals 3,404,090. 526,000 new homes need to be built to keep up with the population growth. A further 283,000 homes need to be built to meet the unmet backlog of housing. This means a total of 800,000 homes need to be built by 2021 to sustain the population of London. At the current rate of building, only 250,000 homes are likely to be built.

Its households are the most overcrowded in the country.

The borough of Newham has the largest household sizes in any local authority in the country, with an average of 3.01 people per household.  The national average is 2.30.

How might London accommodate this increase in population?

> More people investing in flat-shares?
> Increase in overcrowded households?
> More commuter workers?
> Increase in homelessness?
> Increase in illegal beds-in-sheds?
> Poor families displaced out of London?
> Makeshift satellite communities?

Where will it build the new homes?

Islington is the densest district in the UK with 66 d/ha. Bromley is the least dense with 9 d/ha. Can some areas of London be condensed? Or should the green belt be released for development so that London can expand into it?

Should we expand or compress? Urban densification vs suburban sprawl?