The run-away resi market is pushing young professionals out of the capital

Jon White

London’s booming residential market is both a symptom of - and a threat to - its economic success.

That’s the inescapable conclusion of the research commissioned by Turner & Townsend and London First, and published this week.

With seven in 10 of London’s most economically productive employees already struggling to meet their housing costs, and thousands considering moving jobs to another city, it’s no wonder three quarters of the capital’s businesses view housing supply and costs as a significant risk to economic growth.

Such an exodus of the capital’s young professionals would clearly be disastrous. And it would be a bitter irony indeed if the soaring prices triggered by London’s economic boom ended up choking off its growth.

The construction industry has done much to address London’s chronic need for more homes, but it would perform even better if it were possible to unlock development sites in a more cost effective way.

The construction industry would perform even better if it were possible to unlock development sites in a more cost effective way

Great strides are already being made. We’re increasingly seeing developers and utilities providers sharing infrastructure construction costs, and developments in building technology - like the use of factory-built housing units and high quality kit construction - have boosted both value and the supply of residential projects.

Handled right, the planning process need not be a brake on well-designed projects. Our experience shows that if developers engage early with existing communities and address their concerns, new homes can be built both quickly and sensitively.

It’s a point driven home by the report’s findings on attitudes to housebuilding. The confirmation that Londoners aren’t nearly as nimbyish as their councilors think they are suggests that public opposition need not be an automatic barrier to construction.

With input costs rising steadily, developers in the capital are under greater pressure than ever to deliver value. But with so many Londoners considering heading for the exit if insufficient supply drives prices up further, the stakes for those building London’s new homes couldn’t be higher.

Jon White is UK managing director of Turner & Townsend