How to develop small sites – Archiboo/Rare Space conference pre-register

12 February, 2018

Archiboo together with Rare Space is holding a half-day conference for architects wanting to develop their own schemes. Topics will cover finding land, buying land, case studies and marketing and selling your development.

Speakers will include representatives from the GLA that has just announced details of the first 10 sites to come forward under its Small Sites, Small Builders programme.

The initiative is part of a capital-wide push by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan for small housing developments to play a much greater role in helping to deliver the capital’s housing needs. Of the 66,000 homes to be built by 2020, he envisages 36,000 of these will be on sites under 0.25ha.

Architects are often best placed to spot the potential of awkward, compact sites but because current land disposal policy is focused on securing the best price and planning permission, it has made it very hard for anyone but the big developers to access sites.

Announcing the 10 TfL sites, which  include land at Cable Street, near the Shadwell DLR in Tower Hamlets and a site at Christchurch Road in Lambeth, the Mayor said last week: “For far too long, London’s housing market has been over-reliant on large developers building the majority of our homes on large brownfield sites. The number of small sites coming forward has halved in the last decade, and we have lost almost a third of all small and medium-sized homebuilders operating in the capital”.

He says he is interested in innovative ideas for the sites particularly those that include affordable housing. To encourage small developers, the GLA has streamlined the bidding process. All sites will come with a set of surveys to clarify constraints and risks, and standard contracts to minimise negotiation.

.“Treasury rules apply to all public sector land”, explains Levent Kerimol from the GLA’s Regeneration team “but there is some ‘flex’, for example under the calculation of value we would be able to take account of the wider social benefits such as affordable housing”.

The GLA says it’s encouraging landowners to use crowd sourcing and other platforms as a way of gathering ideas adding that bids will be judged on the “credibility of the offer. We won’t be looking at turnover – this is not a procurement process,” says Kerimol.


  • To attend the How to Develop Small Sites conference on April 19th please pre-register your interest here
  • Stuart Robinson, TfL’s strategic planning adviser on its development portfolio will be on the panel of the Architect Pitch on March 5th