Opinion: If we want to stop families fleeing London, we need to design new apartments with their needs in mind

 
Hal Currey
German Politicians Wrangle Over Family Policy Reforms
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Encouraging families to stay in London is vital to the economy and the social fabric of the capital. According to the latest figures from the influential think tank, Centre for London, the number of people aged between 25 to 34 fell by about 30,000 people between mid-2016 and mid-2017, with a net reduction of 21,000 people aged 25 to 29 representing the biggest decline in that age group in 20 years. This exodus represents young families and future families leaving the capital who are unlikely to return.


We need to rethink how families live in London. The days of buying a fixer-upper house in an emerging hotspot have disappeared for most young couples. The future of family living has to be in apartments within developments. We work with a number of the capital’s leading developers and we have witnessed the changing demographic buying a new home in a development. We now see more couples or single parents with young children.

Our team is working on a masterplan to maximise space within a new development to enable parents and children to enjoy a quality lifestyle. Design is the key and our first priority is to move all the messy aspects of family living, such as laundry, bins and storage, out of the home – the service element of our lives. No one wants to cook in a kitchen cluttered with laundry baskets, bins and inadequate storage.

By creating communal laundry rooms and serviced waste disposal areas on each floor of a building, two major domestic irritants are removed from the private apartment. There may be potential for a laundry service to be offered to time-poor residents as part of the service arrangements for the development. Extensive storage can be provided by making use of the dark spaces in a building.

We also want to provide solutions to prohibitive costs such as childcare by making on-site nurseries and playschools as part of the development to encourage a sense of community and belonging.


The pace of change is incredible and we need to ensure that our homes are future-proofed to be part of the latest digital innovations. Technology will provide the link at the heart of creating new communities and must be an integral part of the infrastructure of new developments.

A village hall or community hub will be the bricks and mortar. Apps and other new tech will provide the connection for people to start a judo club for children or a supper club or book a place at playschool, run a digital library or organise a weekend game of football.

Most of us crave a sense of belonging. Many people leave the capital in search of the perfect town or village where they can make friends and feel part of a community, but then face the grind of commuting to the capital each day. London developments will often house a population similar to a small town or village. We now need to embrace clever design and technology to make family living in an apartment the smart option and to keep people in the capital.

halarchitects.co.uk

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