New London Architecture

Great Estates: Models for Modern Placemaking

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Sarah Yates

New London Architecture

London is characterised by its great estates - the long-term ownership of large tracts of land.

By bringing together many of the capital's original and newer great estates, the second edition - produced with RIBA Publishing a decade after the first - tells an enduring story of evolving development. It describes how a resilient cycle of change and renewal has been created through ongoing ownership and management of freehold assets and their lease terms. Today, this long-term attitude to investment, development and management has informed the realisation of new large-scale and mixed-use areas of the capital.

Providing a comprehensive picture of London's estates, this edition sets out for the future what can be drawn from the most successful principle of placemaking. Part retrospective, part forward-looking, the book provides lessons on place-shaping management and stewardship for global cities looking to learn from this unique London model.


Peter Murray OBE, Co-Founder, NLA 
The historic estates of London are a key component of the city’s unique character and heritage. Their advantages as long-term holders of property are recognised as being of benefit to newer, large-scale, mixed-use developments, as well as to the public sector. London’s estates are custodians of a rich heritage of architectural significance and have played a vital role in preserving and maintaining this legacy, ensuring that the city’s history is protected for future generations. They take an active role in urban planning and development within their respective areas and have the resources and expertise to curate and fund vital improvements to their local areas. 
The estates are known for their maintenance of public spaces, including parks, gardens and squares. They invest in landscaping and security. They actively engage with local communities, supporting local businesses and providing amenities and services that enhance their quality of life, initiatives that have become increasingly important in recent years. Estates make significant economic contributions to the city, providing employment opportunities, supporting local businesses, and contributing to the overall economic vitality of their areas. They are stewards of a diverse portfolio of properties, including residential, commercial and retail spaces. Their expertise in property management helps ensure that buildings are well maintained. 
The great estates typically adopt a long-term approach, ensuring the continuity and sustainability of their areas. This involves balancing commercial interests with preserving heritage, maintaining a sense of place, and considering the needs of current and future residents. Long-termism encourages sustainable development practices. It involves considering the environmental impact of property investments and management decisions. By incorporating sustainable features, such as energy-efficient design, renewable energy sources and eco-friendly materials, long-term property owners contribute to reducing their carbon footprint and promoting environmental stewardship. 
Long-term property owners are more likely to invest in the local community by supporting local businesses, infrastructure development and social initiatives. This contributes to a sense of belonging, fosters social cohesion and enhances residents’ overall quality of life. Long-term promotes better tenant relationships. Property owners prioritising long-term value are more likely to focus on maintaining high-quality properties, providing responsive management services and fostering positive tenant experiences. 
While historic estates dating back hundreds of years may seem an anomaly in the 21st century, in reality, they deliver essential benefits for the capital, its planning, architectural heritage, public spaces, stewardship and its future. 


1 Introduction

21 Section 1: Original Estates
23 Medieval Origins
53 Reformation to Restoration
79 Building the West End and Beyond
121 The Growing Metropolis

153 Section 2: Newer Estates
Urban Renaissance
193 Post-Olympic Boom

242 Conclusion: The Great Estates and the Future of Urban Resilience


Published February 2024
266 Pages
RIBA Publishing

Member Download Preview

Sarah Yates

New London Architecture

Great Estates



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Reimagining the Great Estates


Reimagining the Great Estates

16 May 2024

Great Estates: Models for Modern Placemaking


Great Estates: Models for Modern Placemaking

A decade later, and having collaborated with many of the estates over the years, we felt it was a good moment to revisit...

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