Data from the Department for Communities and Local Government shows that the growth in the number of homes this century has been 10% across England and 11% across London as a whole. But the figure for London disguises a stark difference between inner and outer boroughs. There has been a 37% increase in the number of homes in Tower Hamlets since 2001 and a 20% increase in Islington. But in the same period the growth rate in dwellings in 16 outer boroughs has been in single figures.
This pattern of growth is a reversal of what happened through most of the 20th century when more than half of the new housing stock was provided in the outer boroughs.
The consequence is that built-up areas of inner London are becoming more densely packed. Housing density is measured in dwellings per hectare. The average for England as a whole is 1.8. The average rate for London is 21.5. For Inner London it is more than double that again at 44.6. And for Kensington and Chelsea, the borough with London’s highest, it is 69.1.
As the map shows, Kensington and Chelsea has seen just 2% growth in homes sine 2001 due to a lack of brownfield sites. The fastest growing borough in terms of housing, Tower Hamlets, has seen dwelling density rise from 37.2 homes per hectare in 2001 to over 50 today.
In comparison, the dwellings per hectare rate in Havering is 8.7, in Hillingdon it is 9.1, and in Bromley 9.2. If Havering had the same level of housing density as Kensington and Chelsea it would have 800,000 homes, not 100,000.