Emma was born in Chelsea, the youngest of six children in an Anglo-Spanish family. She studied design and architectural history at the Royal College of Art. Spending most of her working life writing for design and architectural magazines, Emma specialised in 20th century social housing, planning and architecture. She has written two books and contributed to countless others. She is half way through (suspended) PhD research on architecture and political ideology under the Spanish dictator Franco, and continues to contribute on specialist subjects when time permits, with articles, lectures and academic seminars.
Emma’s interest in well-planned social housing extends across all housing tenures, where neighbourhoods can be improved by having all the everyday essentials within reasonable walking distance, such as convenience stores, green grocers or markets, post office, doctor, dentist, dispensing chemist, dry cleaners, schools and nurseries, parks, and decent transport links, to name a few. All these amenities are suffering existential threat by the rising cost of rent and business rates, with high streets especially under pressure at present.
In Westminster Emma is vice-chair of the following All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs): London; Planning and the Built Environment; Fire Safety and Rescue; CND; and contributes to APPGs relating to the Fire Brigade Union, Council Housing, Leasehold Reform, and was a member of a cross-party committee working on draft legislation to demand registration of ‘overseas ownership of entities’ – which will counter money laundering by purchase of properties by anonymous overseas companies – many of which properties are then left empty. This will become law in 2020.