Ash Sakula is collaborating with RCKa and the London Borough of Lewisham to develop a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) to aid the development of small sites across the Borough. Both the NPPF and the new London Plan sees the intensification of small sites as a key way to provide the capital's housing needs. In the case of Lewisham the London Mayor has set a target of 379 new homes, including genuinely affordable homes, per annum, for the next ten years, equating to roughly 20% of all new homes in the Borough.
We can define a small site as being a plot of less that 0.25 hectares, which is 2,500 square metres, or 27,000 sq ft. To visualise this better, it is a square with 50 metre sides, or sides of 165 feet. This is a little more than one third the size of a football pitch. Carefully designed, and in appropriate locations, a 0.25 hectare site might provide as many as 35 new homes, assuming a density of around 140 homes per hectare. This compares with a more typical suburban density of around 21 homes per hectare.
A small site might be:
· An area of low density, where demolition and redevelopment of low-density dwellings or former industrial premises can providemore homes;
· Infill sites, that may never have been previously built upon;
· Extensions and alterations to existing homes, allowing new generations to stay in the communities they grew up in.
Small site development can benefit not just incoming residents, but existing residents too. Suburban intensification through an increase in density can enhance existing places, through new infrastructure and improved local services. It is worth noting that some of the densest parts of London, including Bloomsbury, Kensington, Knightsbridge, Kensington and Chelsea, are among the most desirable places to live in the capital.
Small site development is required because:
· Government planning policy recognizes the contribution of small sites to housing delivery as important and suggests they should provide 10% of an area’s housing requirement.
· The upcoming London Plan mandates boroughs to meet certain housing targets with small sites playing an essential part. Lewisham’s annual target is 379 new homes on small sites.
Lewisham’s small sites strategy aims to:
· Deliver more homes, including those that are genuinely affordable.
· Diversify who is delivering Lewisham’s housing supply to make it more resilient.
· Encourage local builders and developers, thus stimulating the local economy and providing jobs.
· Increase density, helping to support local centres and infrastructure.