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Housing

London’s Big Push for Better Design

The city's Public Practice program is embedding experienced architects and planners around the area in an effort to speed housing construction and get more inclusive public spaces.
The 17 architects and designers in the first cohort of Public Practice have been charged with boosting the influence of good planning on London.
The 17 architects and designers in the first cohort of Public Practice have been charged with boosting the influence of good planning on London.Tim Smyth

This month, London launched a scheme to put good design back at the heart of public planning. A new social enterprise called Public Practice, supported by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, is embedding experienced architects and urban designers in 17 local authorities in and around the U.K. capital, for year-long but potentially open-ended placements.

These planners—chosen from over 200 applicants—will take on major briefs that range from developing blueprints for new garden cities to seeking ways to streamline the homebuilding process. Part of a cohort due to be replenished in a second round next year, this year’s associates are, according to Public Practice’s own estimates, forecast to build, expedite, or improve 17,000 homes and 19,000 square meters (roughly 18,300 square feet) of public realm, accelerate the delivery of £26 million ($35 million) of public infrastructure, and engage more than 3,400 people in communities in planning over the next year.