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Report calls for new ways of delivering residential density in London

A report from GIA and London First has called for supplementary guidance on the daylight and sunlight levels that new residential developments are expected to receive, specific to the needs of an urban environment.

Current national guidelines, published by the Building Research Establishment (BRE), fail to clearly distinguish between city centre and suburban environments. As a result, many Local Planning Authorities are adopting a “one size fits all” approach and potentially holding back different ways of developing in central London.

The report argues that London needs to make better use of its existing land and develop at higher densities to start building the number of homes the city needs. Developing specific guidance for urban areas would help Local Planning Authorities make informed decisions, enabling developers to innovate and build at greater density while ensuring good levels of light are delivered into their buildings.

The report’s recommendations include:
· New ‘daylight and sunlight’ guidance for urban areas should include a measure of the land being built upon relative to the available open space.
· The benefits of varied street widths and the use of different building types at varying scales should be considered.
· Varied floor to ceiling heights and the reintroduction of bay windows should be taken into account.

Simone Pagani, Senior Partner at GIA explains: “Applying the BRE Guidance correctly means applying it contextually, fundamentally recognising that the driver for homes in central London and town centre locations are different to those in suburban areas. It should be a design aid rather than a constraint, informing the appropriate levels of light for a site’s urban grain, feel and aspirations.”

John Dickie, director of strategy and policy at London First, said: “Some of London’s most recognisable streets, in Shoreditch, Covent Garden or Chelsea, wouldn’t comply with current national guidance on these requirements. Making better use of existing land will be an important part of reaching London’s goal of building 50,000 new homes each year and developing ‘daylight and sunlight’ guidelines that are relevant to city centre living, which is inevitably at greater density than suburban areas, is long overdue.”

The full report, ‘Guiding Light: Unlocking London’s residential density’ is available here.

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