PRESS RELEASE: Offices should not be priority for new buildings say Londoners

Building site at sunset

A recent YouGov poll of adults in Britain commissioned by Coin Street Community Builders found that less than 1% of Britons, including less than 1% of Londoners believe offices should be a priority when building on brownfield land.

Half of the London respondents in the nationwide poll (50%) believe housing should be prioritised for these sites and a quarter of the same group (26%) think brownfield land should be used for public service buildings or community facilities. Just 7% of London respondents want shops, hotels, and restaurants on these sites, and not a single respondent would prioritise offices.  

The YouGov poll looks at views on developing on brownfield land – plots that have previously been used and are ready for redevelopment. British adults across the nation, of all common political affiliations, and demographic profiles, rated housing as the number one priority when building on brownfield sites. National results mirrored those of London, with 50% of British adults saying housing should be a priority, including half of 2019 Conservative voters (51%).

Over 74,000 homes a year are needed in London to meet housing need, with around 45,000 of these in the social and affordable categories. Despite this, planning applications for large office-led developments continue to crop-up across the capital, amidst the continuing housing crisis which saw 13,325 rough sleepers recorded in London between April 2022 and June 2023. Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs warned in June that demand for office space is in decline.

The new polling data released today demonstrates public support for the government’s promise to build more homes on brownfield land in cities with the vast majority of respondents (75%) wanting to see brownfield prioritised over greenfield sites (1%) where housing is concerned. 

This follows a delay last month to Levelling Up Secretary, Michael Gove’s final decision on plans for an enormous office block directly on London’s South Bank, home to some of the capital’s most visited sites, including Oxo Tower Wharf, the Southbank Centre, the National Theatre, and Tate Modern.

Plans for 72 Upper Ground, the office building, dubbed a “monstrosity” and “slab” by commentators, went to public inquiry late last year following significant public opposition to the development.

The local community, along with nearly 6000 signatories to a public petition, is hoping Michael Gove will refuse planning permission for Mitsubishi Estates’ proposed redevelopment of the former ITV television studios and headquarters. Not a single home is included in the Mitsubishi scheme despite ITV having been granted consent in 2018 for a mixed-use development including 211 flats. The Secretary of State’s decision is expected on or before 6 October.

“There is a housing crisis across the country and especially in London. We support redevelopment on under-used brownfield sites, but housing and green spaces should be a part of those plans wherever possible. What we see with 72 Upper Ground is an office block that meets neither the housing needs of the local community nor business needs of the area. It clearly goes against what most people want from these kinds of sites and places like the South Bank. Michael Gove is getting it right when he takes developments like 72 Upper Ground to public inquiry. We are pleased he is spending extra time to really consider what’s right for neighbourhoods where there is a desperate shortage of homes for residents.”

Click below to download our full press release including notes to editors and YouGov poll data