Scale to Change report - RSA

Scale to Change: Building inclusive neighbourhoods through London’s largest new housing developments


  • Economy
  • Poverty and inequality

Large-scale developments are a vital response to London’s housing challenge. It is crucial that we build inclusive and welcoming communities – however there is a risk that policy intended to provide housing for a range of incomes inadvertently leads to segregated and polarised new neighbourhoods. People on average incomes often can’t access or afford homes under any of the tenures offered by new development.

We suggest that developers could benefit from providing a broader range of tenures than policy stipulates. A more diverse range of tenures can help to ensure residents can remain local as their housing needs change over time. Strong social networks are key features of attractive places, driving long-term economic and social value.

Our report, Scale to Change, seeks to explore the unique challenges and opportunities of large scale develop­ments – in relation not just to the design and allocation of housing, but wider elements of place-making too. With developers increasingly in the driving seat, we outline steps that developers can take – not only in response to public expectations but as a driver of financial value. Great neighbourhoods are more valuable.

Developers shouldn’t only focus on the housing mix; they should also consider how people mix. Investment in social infrastructure and civic institutions that facilitate social mixing – schools and open spaces in particular – is critical to generate interaction and shared identity in a neighbourhood. There is an economic imperative too: London’s dynamic economy relies on its workforce being able to find homes people can afford in neighbourhoods that provide a decent quality of life.

We owe it to future generations of Londoners to deliver not just new homes at scale, but also to change the nature of large-scale development so as to build socially inclusive neighbourhoods. 

Download 'Scale to Change' (PDF, 1MB)

Read 'Scale to Change' online (on Medium)


Picture of Jonathan Schifferes
Associate Director, Public Services and Communities (Family leave)