London’s next mayor will have their work cut out to tackle the housing crisis (Leader, 05.02.16).

Without new homes to accommodate the rising population, residents will snub London in favour of more affordable cities, and the capital will cease to be sustainable.

Despite the pressure to address the housing crisis, we must ensure we build communities that stand the test of time. The temptation will be to build high and to ignore green spaces in a bid to boost the number of homes. But there are innovative ways we can incorporate green spaces into new developments if we just think outside the box.

Our report, Wild Cities, looks at how trends toward green space are being embraced around the world. Not onlywill tapping into this demand give new housing developments a unique selling point, it will also enable developers to create homes that will help us to lead healthier, happier lives.

As London’s population looks set to grow, and with space at a premium, we are becoming ever more inventive when it comes to finding room for green space. In Peckham, there are plans to transform disused railway coal sidings into an elevated park. Another example is the Bosco Verticale in Milan, an apartment building whose façade boasts 700 trees and 16,000 plants.

It is also important to include an area in a development where people can exercise. It could be a park for running, yoga or roller-blading. It could be an outdoor gym, or even a swimming pond to tap into the renewed interest in outdoor swimming. One exciting project in the planning stages is the Thames Baths, which proposes a floating pontoon in the River Thames.

Developers could look to create chemical-free swimming ponds as part of new schemes. They would provide focal points for communities and provide havens for wildlife. We were delighted to see that a swimming pond will form one of the outdoor spaces at a landmark regeneration scheme in King’s Cross.

Consumers are increasingly aware of environmental issues, and while the UK has reasonably rigorous requirements for eco-friendly construction, some countries have gone a step further. France, for example, has introduced a law requiring all new buildings’ rooftops to be partially covered in either plants or solar panels.

There is the potential to use small, odd-shaped, underground or rooftop spaces for agri-businesses to help London produce the food it needs.

By embracing the demand for green spaces, outdoor exercise and the environment, we will create housing developments with unique appeal. We will create more demand for those homes as well as enjoyable places to live, where residents can boost their health and support local traders. And we will create communities that will remain sought-after in years to come.

Jake Mason, CEO, Evolve

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