London is full of unused spaces that could be given over to temporary housing, workspaces, parks, gardens and retail, but are not, a new report from Centre for London has found.
The report, Meanwhile, in London: making use of London’s empty spaces, found that:
- 24,400 commercial properties in the capital are currently empty, and 22,500 have been empty for at least six months. These account for fifteen times the floor space of Westfield London, Europe’s largest shopping centre (a total of 1.8m sqm).
- 2,700 hectares of land – the equivalent of the London Borough of Lambeth – has planning permission to develop, but construction has yet to start.
The report found that leaving buildings and land empty is costly in terms of security and property taxes and estimated that current vacant office space alone could provide an opportunity to accommodate between 160,000 and 200,000 workers.
The report also identifies ways that government can incentivise landowners, businesses and civil society to bring empty spaces back into use, for instance, reforming the 1954 landlord and tenant act so businesses that are struggling can sublet their spare space more easily.