By Tina John, Creative and Architectural Design Manager, Pocket Living
London is at a critical break-point in its urban growth, the last year has seen a significant decline in the fruition of planning schemes particularly with tall buildings and we are no closer to meeting the affordable housing targets. The short supply of materials and labour along with procurement and supply chain issues have all been compounded by the energy crisis, leading to an economic downturn with some of the slowest growth rates that have a direct impact on the viability of schemes.
The industry needs to work towards more innovative methods of delivering schemes through modern methods of construction and material exploration that can reduced embodied carbon and provide some stability in pricing. Alongside this, the Local Authorities need to re-think how planning schemes are assessed and review viabilities with market trends in mind. These are unprecedented times for the development sector and focus should lie on the deliverability of schemes that regenerate brownfield sites and provide densification in a polycentric city. This doesn’t necessarily mean we focus on tall buildings but consider a more balanced skyline to achieve the housing shortfalls.
Well-designed tall buildings in the appropriate locations can contribute positively to the growth and regeneration of an areas, alongside delivering much needed housing. However, without clear policy direction we are running the risk of London developing a monotonous skyline with less articulated buildings that are under 18m in height or over 50m.
On Pocket Living schemes where tall buildings have been designed, we ensure that these respond to the site and its context, provide a distinct skyline, and constructively contribute to the wider planning concerns of infrastructure and land use, while reducing urban sprawl. The design of these buildings is firmly focused on providing sustainable communities and reducing carbon emissions. High quality design is embedded into our ethos and our schemes deliver good places for people to live. While a building may vary in height people experience it at ground level and we make certain that the public realm is safe-guarded and creates a sense of place for its residents. The carefully curated pallet of materials and well-designed façade ensures that our buildings stand the test of time and provides our residents with great homes that are filled with light and provide excellent outlooks.
A key aspect we also focus on is the longevity of these buildings, through regular up-keep and maintenance. A big deterrent for people living in tall buildings especially in the current economic climate are the surmounting service charges, which we try and minimise especially keeping in mind the affordability of our first-time buyers. We have developed a materials passport to helps us investigate the sustainable credentials and the lifecycle of the products we use in our flats that is part of our buyer’s pack.
To Pocket Living, tall buildings are not about height but an opportunity to provide good neighbourhoods, positive place-making and above all much needed affordable housing.