The body that manages land and buildings in the City has confirmed it is holding meetings with Southwark, Islington, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Lewisham and Lambeth boroughs where it owns nine post-war social housing estates, as well as the two it owns in the City, to discuss how more homes can be built on each site.
Two small schemes are already under way in the Square Mile itself. One is in Middlesex Street, near Aldgate East, and is set to deliver 10 homes. The other is on the Golden Lane Estate, where 66 new homes will be built.
“The City Corporation is a social landlord with 2,793 homes within 11 housing estates across the City of London and six London boroughs,” said a spokesman for the Corporation.
“We are currently developing a range of projects to ensure that we deliver an additional 3,700 much-needed extra homes, across a range of tenures, for Londoners as soon as possible.”
The pace of building new homes in the City is increasing. There were 690 new completions between 2014 and last year, according to Savills, and there are currently five schemes there either under construction or with planning permission that will deliver 580 new-build units.
But the City has limited space. “There is a lot of resistance to putting residential schemes in the heart of the City,” one property analyst told Homes & Property.
“If homes were created in its commercial core it would take up much-needed space for more offices.”
Currently it only has 7,400 residents compared with 480,000 workers, and many do not stay full time.
“In order to maintain its status as the premier international business centre it needs to attract the best talent, and to do that must offer people reasonably priced housing nearby,” explains Ian Anderson, head of development at property consultants Cushman Wakefield.
It’s not just about affordable accommodation. To draw in the smartest young people in banking, technology and creative services, the City needs nightlife, culture and entertainment.
“The vibrancy of Shoreditch, Old Street and Commercial Road has spread into the City,” says Philip Lewis, director of the Tower 42 Estate, home to 50 international companies and 3,500 people over two acres.
“To attract the best talent in the world you need to create a place where they can work close to brands they like.”
The arrival of the hotel, bar and members club The Ned, sister venture to Soho House, signalled a shift in the City’s social scene.
“There are now 20 restaurants around The Ned, and its busiest day is Saturday,” says Carolyn Dwyer of the City of London Corporation.
"It’s been a real driver for our night-time and weekend economy.”
Only last year the Tower 42 Estate transformed the humble alleyway running next to the City’s first skyscraper into a retail avenue dotted with quirky brands including gastropub Broadleaf, Italian restaurant Scarpetta and Pilgrims Pizza joint, which started life as a pizza van.
British Land has a masterplan that will bring 4.9 million square feet of shops, restaurants and bars to the Broadgate area.
At the plan’s heart is Broadgate Circle, a new office complex built around a basin-like events space.
The developer has welcomed restaurants and shops to suit a young techie workforce, such as Franco Manca pizza chain and speakeasy Mrs Fogg’s Maritime Club & Distillery.