Fringe Box



Time For London To Build Upwards Not Over Green Belt

Published on: 10 Mar, 2014
Updated on: 10 Mar, 2014

From Barry Arnfield

A recent Panorama programme on TV highlighted the fact that an increasing number of London’s new build houses and flats are being advertised abroad for richer clients to purchase. I assume that these purchasers will be fast tracked on the visa trail with possible permanent residence a given perk.

Is is time for London to built up rather than expanding out onto the green belt in the Home Counties?

Is is time for London to built up rather than expanding out onto the green belt in the Home Counties?

I also notice that residents of counties surrounding London are, via their respective planning authorities, being pressured into giving up areas of green belt to those who are being displaced by this policy. These are the only people who can afford to buy the increased price properties in these counties, provided they get built. This policy pushes those who cannot afford to buy even further out into more affordable areas and longer and expensive commutes.

As an ex-Merchant Navy Officer, in the 1960s I could not help but notice that the small islands in the Far East solved and still solve their increasing population problems by building upwards. For example, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia principally Kuala Lumpar where in the 1960s the largest building was the mosque and the railway station.

New York’s Manhattan Island similarly grew upwards for the same reason. It is now time for London to cease inflicting its population problem on to everybody else and start a similar exercise of upward instead of outward expansion. This would reduce the demand for further expansion into the surrounding counties and their green belt.

If alarm bells ring about the “spoiling of the look of London” then I would suggest that they look at similarly ancient cities such as Rome, Vienna where such upward building has been on the outlying districts and preserved the character of the inner city.

The same cannot really be said of London which has enabled architectural ego buildings such as the totally impractical Shard and Gurkin to be constructed. Also demonstrating that architects do not understand basic physics that concave mirrors concentrate the sun into a fire producing beams, the “Walkie Talkie” plastic melting building. So if Londoners can put up with those buildings, a few practical buildings would be a welcome change.

In the longer term the increasing loss of fields plus the increasing population of the UK is going to be even further unsustainable. At present with the population at over 60 million, there is only sufficient farmed land to feed 18 million people, this being indicated by the fact that we import 40% of our food. The above figure assumes all the land is used and that we do not have a ridiculous EU Common Agricultural Policy still in place. This population level also assumes that countries that do export food to us, and also have increasing populations, may not wish to continue to export food, leaving the UK with a considerable food shortfall.

Wars have been started on far less excuses than food, but starving populations can lead governments into this sort of drastic solution. So London, time to stay within your own boundaries and start to take the sensible but essential – build upwards, not outwards.

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