Ecobuild latest: Ben Derbyshire says dramatic increase will tackle capital’s housing crisis

Ben Derbyshire

Ben Derbyshire

RIBA president elect Ben Derbyshire has called for a building programme in London’s outer suburbs which would see 700,000 homes built over a generation to help solve the housing crisis.

Speaking at this year’s Ecobuild, Derbyshire (pictured), speaking in his capacity as the chair of HTA, said the density of homes in the capital’s outer suburbs was so low that “you cannot see the homes for the trees”.

He added: “There are an average of 15 dwellings per hectare, you can hardly see the houses from the trees, we can bring this up to the average and over a generation would yield 700,000 new homes.”

The incoming RIBA president, who takes up the post in September, was speaking during a panel discussion on how to deliver more affordable homes in London.

He said he welcomed London mayor Sadiq Khan’s appointment of an expert panel to scrutinise viability assessments for new developments “as the whole process is pretty complicated”.

Speaking at the same event, Susan Emmett, director of residential research at property agent Savills, said too many schemes in London were still focusing on the luxury market, leaving affordable housing at the bottom of the list.

“Most of the development coming through is skewed to the top end of the market, at the higher end demand and supply is [more] evenly matched than at the lower end where there’s an enormous gap between demand and supply.”

The comments came after former Conservative minister Michael Portillo and Berkeley chairman Tony Pidgley criticised government housing policy at the Ecobuild event.

Portillo called on Theresa May’s government to make a dramatic intervention in the housing market and build thousands more council homes.

The former secretary of state for defence said he was “astonished” that the government was allowing a “freefall” in home ownership under its watch.

Meanwhile, Pidgley called on the government to slash more planning red tape, which he branded “a crime” while the UK suffers a housing crisis.