London Maps Show Brownfields

Green, wide open spaces, few golphers
Grimsdyke Golf Course, London, U.K.

There certainly exists evidence that ‘cross-subsidy‘ is an affordable housing liability rather than a benefit. Architect Anna Minton and others have gone so far as to suggest that cross-subsidy has outlived its usefulness, or at least outstayed its welcome in the city of London1.

Robbing Peter to pay Paul has always been a tradeoff. Think about the idea of robbing land committed to social housing for the poorest in order to house the wealthier middle class who covet a convenient downtown home? These days it would seem to be the most common form of cross-subsidy. And it has always suffered from bad optics. But it has equally often seemed to be the only tradeoff that will deliver at least some good to a social housing estate that needs refurbishing. Just not all the good desired.

Given the housing crisis that is gripping many cities and countries around the world, cross-subsidy arrangements might be more palatable if the the cash flowed towards those least able to financially cope, not away from them. But is such an arrangement even possible?

One thought will have come to mind of many, if not all, social housing activists probably everywhere in the world. Can’t we rob some housing land/money from the enormous stockpile that exists to serve and satisfy a few tiny gaggles of humans in golf carts? Spelling it out, why can’t we just grab some golf course land, make rich golfers and golf club owners the cross subsidy donors, and needy social housing tenants the recipients?

Make no mistake. It threatens to happen and actually does happen. We’ve published no less than two articles on the subject2.

So, if you’ve ever questioned the possibility of such a cross-subsidy golf course coup, or whatever you might want to call it, here’s a story for you. The initiator is Russell Curtis, who leads a boutique architecture firm in London, UK. Lots of interesting analysis to be had in the following article published in Should We Build Housing on London’s Golf Courses? Let’s Find Out


  1. Try: Public Housing Redevelopment With Private Funding – London UK
  2. Try: Tycoons Beware: The Housing Crisis May Eat Your Golf Course! and Urban Golf Courses A Tasty Target For Public Parks, Public Housing