Richard Rogers is undoubtedly a fantastic architect, but I really don’t think his sentiments on greenfield sites is going to help the housing debate.
Rogers’ premis is that by building new towns/ eco towns/ garden villages (simply delete the terms that are not en vogue at present) we are damaging the vitality of our cities, and turning our back on the brownfield opportunity sites that are waiting to be regenerated.
I happen to think that is a load of rubbish. Let’s be frank, step one in solving the country’s housing crisis is to solve London’s housing crisis. Does anyone living and or working in London really believe that we are not already exploiting the brownfield opportunities that exist? Is Kings Cross or Battersea Power Station affected by plans for greenfield release proposals in Zone 6 locations? The reality is that we need both, but as I have said before, the redevelopment of brownfield sites tidies up under-utilised parts of the City, and makes for a better urban ladscae, but does precious little to alleviate price inflation or the sense that Londoners are being pushed out of the Capital. Greenfoeld locations on the fringe of London represents the best possible way in which to deliver relatively affordable housing (I say this against a backdrop of the average property in London having now hit the £500,000 mark). Not everyone wants to live in a micro-flat in the middle of the City.
And by the way, Stratford is only happening because we won the Olympics. If it wasn’t for that, we’d still be waiting for the land to be assembled, and there lies one of the problems of large-scale brownfield redevelopment; it takes two generations for anything to materialise.