New London Architecture

Public Housing: a London renaissance

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This research explores the resurgence taking place in the provision of new public housing in London. Extensive research together with contributions from industry experts has been combined with a project showcase in order to fully demonstrate the current picture of public housing.

Excerpt from the introduction

After the Housing Act of Margaret Thatcher’s government in 1980, housebuilding by local authorities ground to a halt, only to be revived by the government of Gordon Brown in 2007 and further encouraged by reform of the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) in 2011. New delivery vehicles, the lifting of the HRA borrowing cap in 2018 and funding by the Mayor of London mean that boroughs are starting to deliver more housing than at any time in the last 40 years. 

To many, public housing embodies the visible support and intervention of the state when the private sector cannot ensure good-quality, affordable homes for people on low incomes - households who cannot afford to rent from a private landlord or to buy their own home. But in line with massive economic, social and political shifts, there is now much greater awareness that priced-out working households should be prioritised for subsidised housing alongside those in the greatest need. The provision of public housing that is of high quality, suitably located and affordable has therefore become a barometer of London’s health and success as an economically and socially sustainable city.
Today, the urgency of the capital’s housing crisis has stimulated rejuvenated ambitions, so that for the first time since the 1960s and 1970s many London councils have been building new homes. In recent years, many London boroughs have been setting up their own local development companies, with the aim of accelerating the delivery of new homes; more than half have already done so.


By Peter Murray, Curator-in-chief, New London Architecture

Background and context
A timeline of milestones, key data, policies and the role of pubic housing.

How London boroughs are delivering new public housing
Local authorities with direct provision for housing, how they are buildings and the issues and challenges in delivery.

Design, quality and maintenance
An investigation of density, design, construction, maintenance and management.

Working with communities
Key principles to working successfully with residents.

What London councils can do
A recipe to create inspiring and robust new council homes.

Project Showcase
  • Estate regeneration
  • Infill and small sites
  • Masterplans


Published May 2019
164 Pages
ISBN 9781999351311

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