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Via Andy Yan the Duke of Data is this interesting article that has a lot of relevance to the Vancouver situation, and also names that tendency of vacant houses and apartments to appear rather dead in neighbourhoods. That word is Necrotecture, and Rowland Atkinson describes it as “dead residential space” and the  “wasteful result of continuing rounds of international capital investment in the built environment and the overconsumption of housing and other resources by the super‐rich.”

As London become a pied a terre for the global elite, it is serving capital investment instead of housing and social values needed to run the city as a place. Laundered money, poor planning decisions and absentee owners do not help the region’s economy.  Necrotecture, a new type of “socially dead space” has been created where human habitation and social attachment are gone from every transaction.

Atkinson sees Necrotectural towers and massive homes as forming  “massive misdirection of development capacity, even as the city experiences a massive social crisis that continues to be played out in the wider housing market.” 

The  2012 Shard Tower is 72 storeys, and is the  tallest tower in the United Kingdom. It also signalled London becoming a vertical city with 510 high-rise developments being built or with building approvals.The push back of units being built at high prices for exclusive purchases sounds just the same as in Vancouver.

London’s massive social inequalities and housing problems emphasize the problematic position of these new residences as they bring into sharp relief the city’s social extremes and the inability of state or market to meet social need (Dorling, 2014). These contrasts have also been marked by a sense of social conflict generated by the inequity of empty homes worth many millions (Neate, 2018) in a city of massive waiting lists and competition for residential space.”

As Atkinson notes, the fallout is for local citizens.

“One of the most glaring injustices is that while essential workers and even those on higher incomes struggle to access decent housing, the city is producing tens of thousands of apartments annually for people who either never use them or significantly underuse them…Mounting evidence shows that developers and planning consultants work hard to circumvent their duty to offer either affordable housing or cash contributions to the local authority (Atkinson and Tait, 2017). Criticism of this system has been growing for some years now, but the rising intensity of anger is palpable.”

Here is  the Financial Times’ YouTube take on the London Housing crisis from 2015.

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