London Plan Density – Research Project 1: Definitions and Measurement of Density

July 2016

London Plan Density - Research Project 1

Increasing density is a key way of delivering more homes where land supply is constrained. London Plan Policy 3.4 aims to ensure that development optimises housing output for different types of locations in London and has an associated sustainable residential quality (SRQ) density matrix (London Plan Table 3.2) which sets ranges for appropriate residential density in different urban character settings and with different levels of public transport accessibility.

However, the majority of recent developments in London are being delivered at densities beyond those recommended in the density matrix. In addition, density can be measured in different ways. As part of the full review of the London Plan it is necessary to assess the nature of the development the current policy approach is delivering and consider if an alternative or amended approach is required to deliver sustainable development in London. This evidence will be provided by five interlinked research projects: (1) Measuring and defining density, (2) Lessons from higher density development, (3) Affordability, development and costs and viability, (4), Exploring character and development density, and (5) Why else is density important?.

The first project (Definitions and Measurement of Density) is expected to explore the different definitions of density and the different methods for measuring density. It is asked to consider which approach or approaches best provide an understanding of two key issues related to higher density development: urban form and number of people in an area. In addition it is asked to develop a definition for different categories of density which can be applied irrespective of the sites context to provide clarity to a significantly wide ranging debate. The findings from the report are expected to provide recommendations on how a new Mayor could take account of these in the full review of the London Plan. The project will also provide a recommended approach for estimating density for understanding housing capacity at a strategic level.

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Client: Greater London Authority

Authors: Ian Gordon, Alan Mace & Christine Whitehead

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