There are approximately a 100,000 buildings registered empty, not to mention the many more ‘not lived in’ buildings. The presence of empty is in affluent areas as well as the deprived and in the city centre as well as the suburbs. Empty buildings have come to fill up so much of our streets that it strongly governs a large part of what our urban environment is like. It is Anti-social, Anti-econonomic & anti-environment and it affects all of us.
The waste is offensive and the impression is the most prominent sign of a stagnant city. This affects our tourism, our productivity and our daily lives. London seems to have lost the ability and desire to evolve naturally with time. Adaptation and change of use happens but at a pace barely visible and in the meantime buildings are left hollow and lifeless faster than they are put back into use.
On a national and local scale small measures could make a big difference. Making things better is not always complicated and as in most cases much could be gained by preventive interventions. Important lessons could be learnt from both Denmark & Holland. A long term strategy that includes improved regulations, a better planning process, as well as funding options and a loosening of user classes could no doubt improve how buildings adapt and find continual use through ever changing social and economic factors.
Not only is London looking tired, it is looking abandoned and left behind!
This article was written in 2010 and is written in the context of the social and political conditions of the time