Stockholm's incredible solution to housing shortage

Sarah Coles

The Revolutionary Way Stockholm Is Tackling Its Housing Shortage
The Revolutionary Way Stockholm Is Tackling Its Housing Shortage

The shortage of housing is nothing new to cities around the world, but the solution being introduced in Stockholm is ground-breaking. There are major restrictions on building in the historic centre - so it's putting up wooden towers around the city. It plans to build 3-4 towers a year, with hundreds of apartments in each - providing thousands of new apartments for the city.

This may provide food for thought for numerous cities around the world hampered by restrictions on building, and struggling with a shortage of property for residents.


In the UK, solving the housing shortage is considered one of the biggest political failures of recent years. The country needs 50,000 new homes built every year in London alone to keep pace with demand - and is falling laughably short. The country as a whole needs to build more than 200,000 homes a year to keep up with growing demand, but last year finished just 140,000.

The government is putting its hope in three brand new garden cities outside London - each home to 15,000 properties. However, a number of bodies have also made more radical suggestions.
Radical solutions

And if radical approaches are good enough for Stockholm they may be good enough for London. Here are three interesting propositions.

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers has proposed the foundation of a flat-pack property industry. This would shift the business of housebuilding from bespoke on-site undertakings, to factory-based manufacturing projects. It would speed up the building process, cut costs and boost manufacturing jobs in one move.

The Adam Smith Institute, meanwhile, has proposed reclassifying the Green Belt, into verdant land that would remain protected, 'brown land' available for building, and agricultural land. Furthermore, it has proposed that a one-mile strip of the inner edge of the Green Belt could be made available for housing - and in compensation at least a mile of agricultural land behind the outer edge of the Green Belt should be classified as Verdant Green Belt. In effect this would mean shifting the Green Belt a mile further away from major cities - opening up new land for building.

The Urban Land Institute, meanwhile, recently held a discussion with housing experts - including urban economist Edward Glaeser. He argued that the solution lay in building more densely in cities - dropping restrictive planning rules and building taller buildings - with less concern for the view from iconic spots, and more for the ability of people to afford to live somewhere in that view.

But what do you think? What would you like the government to do to make housing cheaper and more plentiful? Let us know in the comments.

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