Vague ramblings

London housing: going where the evidence leads

Posted in Business, Urbanism by Ian Cundell on 24 July, 2014

Ramidus Consulting, the real estate and workplace adviser that I am proud to be associated with, spent a big chunk of late 2013 and early 2014 taking a very close – I would argue forensic – look at the challenges presented by the presence of very wealthy investors in the City of Westminster, in particular to “quantify and describe the scale and nature of the Prime residential market in Westminster and to consider its impact on the economy and communities.”

The client was the City itself and the result was published today.

The report has been well received, with one real estate professional calling it ‘fascinating‘  while another very experienced property PR man said “At last, some objective & concrete analysis of London’s PCL market“. It would be fair to say that all at Ramidus are delighted with the response to the report so far. It was a difficult and challenging project and, of course, highly politically sensitive.

So we are especially proud that we were able to stick with the approach that Ramidus always uses: we go where the evidence leads.  Many of our initial assumptions were turned on their heads, we found many avenues that we would have liked to explore in more depth, but which were outside the scope of the research and we came to appreciate the astonishing complexity of housing not just in the City of Westminster but in London as a whole.

The “in a nutshell” conclusions are summarised in the final chapter, in terms of two critical questions:

  • Does the increasing price and volume of higher value housing impact on Westminster’s ability to meet housing needs in the borough?

It is hard to deny this.

  •  Is there a planning policy that could mitigate or change that, without creating alternative problems?

We cannot envisage one within existing frameworks.

This is Westminster’s (and, it must be said, London’s) ‘intractable problem’.

I urge anyone interested in housing in London to grab the report – download it here – and to take your time reading it.

We have, of course, continued thinking about the issues in the report and many others we found in the course of research. It would be inappropriate to discuss them here, lest people get the idea we ‘speak for Westminster’, but I will return to them in future blogs.


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