During his successful campaign to become London mayor, Sadiq Khan placed a strong emphasis on building houses to allow Londoners to get on the property ladder.
In the days following his election victory, Deloitte Real Estate released figures showing that commercial building construction was at its highest rate since it began its survey.
While these two markets may not initially seem to directly affect on one another, they do.
Creating a building ecosystem that balances two markets is crucial – and architectural innovation can play a part.
Strong building figures in both the commercial and housing markets are undoubtedly good for the economy and the construction industry.
However, for the market to be sustainable, balance in all areas is needed. First-time buyer, last-time buyer, high-end buyer and commercial investor must all have options to keep the market buoyant and consistent.
While the importance of building first-time homes is apparent, less so is the necessity of building architecturally stunning homes to offer and attract third, fourth or last-time buyers to move into.
“Competition for the middle ground is possibly even more fierce higher up the housing chain”
These homes have the ability to stabilise prices and free up space in the bottlenecked first or second-time buyers’ market.
It keeps this building ecosystem flowing at a more sustainable level.
However, creating this level of housing is not simple. The competition for the middle ground is possibly even more fierce higher up the housing chain.
Satisfying this buyer needs architectural innovation and the new London mayor’s manifesto promise of “delivering the new and affordable homes we need to cope with a rising population [as well as putting] good design and sustainability at the heart of the London Plan” only serves to enhance the importance of this.
This means using a variety of building materials to blend in with heritage architecture, or those which give a modern glazed appearance will become more common.
However, commercial buildings should not be overlooked. There are suggestions that investors are seeing commercial buildings as more attractive in the capital due to the rise in stamp duty.
“Without balance, the property market may become skewed and prices unaffordable”
The 28 per cent increase in the number of commercial buildings being constructed would certainly suggest it is an active market.
Perhaps the investor’s eye is switching to the commercial rather than the residential market, leaving space for the individual homeowner to move more freely.
Creating a building ecosystem is not just about supply at the bottom: if we create buildings at all levels – even within the commercial sector – then we feed the possibility of growth at all levels.
Without balance, the property market may become skewed and prices unaffordable.
Architectural attraction and innovation can help provide the variety of striking properties which ensures this balance is maintained, and as a construction materials manufacturer, we know the products exist to create that variation.
The challenge for the construction market is to achieve the balance of affordability, good design and sustainability that Sadiq Khan has promised to ensure growth in the market continues.
Andrew Halstead-Smith is group marketing manager at Ibstock