London housing experts debate the latest crisis

The history of housing provision in London and how it could be used to address the current crisis in the capital is the theme of a conference being held at the University of London.

The two-day conference, which starts today (Thursday 27 June) at Senate House, will examine the historical track record in both private and public sector housing, as well as focusing on council provision and the role this plays in politics and immigration.

Other areas of interest include ‘Builders and the building profession’, ‘Contesting the urban fabric: the politics of gentrification in Islington and Hackney, 1960-1980’ and ‘Big Society, small state: the language of localism and the decline of social housing’.

Professor Matthew Davies, Director for the Centre for Metropolitan History at the Institute of Historical Research (IHR) explains how in many regions of the world, an increasing urban population often outstrips the supply of housing, and in this regard, London is no exception.

Of London today, Professor Davies said:

“As a growing metropolis, London is in the middle of a severe housing crisis, which has been caused by a combination of factors – an increase in both population and household numbers, planning restrictions on urban expansion, rising rents and the impact of house prices rising with the credit boom, as well as pressure on stretched household incomes as a consequence of the economic downturn.”

The conference organised jointly by the IHR, English Heritage and UrbanLab, aims to bring together the different disciplines involved in housing provision, ranging from planning and design, development and finance to the cultural and social, in an attempt to learn from our history of housing and apply it, where possible, to resolve the present crisis. Many of the presentations will be made available in the coming weeks as audio podcasts on the IHR’s website.