The essays in this volume set out a vision for new 'city villages' to help meet today's housing shortage.

Britain faces its greatest housing crisis since the aftermath of the second world war. Then, the private sector, proactive local authorities and central government combined to meet the demand. Today, we need a powerful new reforming zeal, promoting new and better models of home building, urban regeneration, and partnership between public and private sectors and local and national government. The challenge is to at least double the rate of homebuilding, and to do so rapidly. This will simply not happen without creative, concerted action by the public, private and not-for-profit sectors, and by national and local government.

City villages are areas of redevelopment and regeneration within the cities, including significantly more and better housing at a broad range of price and rent levels, facilitated by local authorities leveraging their land ownership, particularly their ownership of existing council estates, in partnership with private and voluntary sector developers. Located across Britain, new city villages would comprise socially mixed, multi-tenure housing, planned not just as housing developments but as entire communities with integral and modern commercial, retail and transport facilities.

The collection has a particular focus on London, as a prime location for new city villages, given the pressure of housing demand in the capital. London is a city of villages – including 600 high streets. The challenge is to make them better and to create many hundreds of new city villages, providing significantly more and better housing, and more and better amenities. But the concept is flexible and transportable, and other cities subject to high housing demand can do the same.

The vision behind these schemes is exciting. But the creation of new city villages, based largely on existing council estates, is a highly challenging task, which is partly why so few have been created to date. While the boom in land and house prices has greatly strengthened their viability, village by village a host of practical challenges will need to be overcome, beyond the obvious issues of planning and design. These city villages require a new generation of public masterplanners, radical innovation in design, a wholly new approach to land development, and new forms of partnership between the public, private and voluntary sectors. It is one of the most exciting tasks of the next generation.

Part 1: Making the case for change

Part 2: Tackling the land puzzle

Part 3: Exploring new models of development

Part 4: Case studies in new approaches

Part 5: Looking beyond the orbital