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Back to the future for housing estates?

Words: Roger Milne
London housing estate

London's inner city streetscapes could be completely rebuilt in a bid to increase housing and commercial space.

Some of the capital's traditional housing estates that were built in the 60s, 70s and early 80s, such as those seen in Islington and Pimlico, could be recreated in order to maximise capacity.
Communities secretary Eric Pickles has revealed that the government is part-funding a study by property consultancy Savills, which is looking at how this might be achieved and whether regulatory changes might be needed.
The secretary of state has made it clear that the intention is to achieve higher densities but better quality housing in the process.
He said: "Our intention is to increase the number of homes on inner city estates, but also to increase their quality. Past experience tells us mere tinkering won't work. We need to be more ambitious.
"Completely rebuilding traditional streetscapes can provide more housing and commercial space using the same amount of land. These estates would represent neighbourhoods like Pimlico or Islington, with terraced streets of houses, apartments and commercial space."
Savills added: "The restoration of traditional street patterns and the replacement of slab blocks and point blocks with traditional housing types, including terraced houses and mansion blocks, as well as the appropriate construction and retention of towers, would significantly increase the housing capacity of land and better provide for the social and other needs of inhabitants while providing more successful, desirable and authentically 'Londonish' neighbourhoods."
Pickles also pointed out that the government had set aside £150m in the last Budget statement to fund the regeneration of existing housing estates.
Savills is due to report its findings by the end of the year.
While its focus is on the capital the lessons should have wider application.
The consultancy said: "Although this will be a London study, it could have wider implications for the commuter belt and in other areas with high housing demand like Brighton, Cambridge and Oxford."