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Sadiq Khan publishes London Housing Strategy

Tuesday 22 May 2018

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has published his housing strategy, following months of consultation on a draft edition released in September.

Published today, the 264-page report sets out the Mayor's vision for housing, and his ambitious long-term policies and proposals to tackle the housing challenges facing London today.

Central to the strategy, which will be undertaken over the course of several years, is to prioritise the building of many more homes for Londoners - particularly genuinely affordable homes - in order to solve London’s housing crisis. The assessment identified the capacity for 65,000 new homes a year across the capital over the next 10 years, providing the basis for the Mayor’s overall housing supply target.

Building homes for Londoners

For years demand has outstripped supply in the capital, and the Mayor believes the only way to fix London’s housing crisis is to build far more new homes. The strategy calls for variety in who builds homes, and where and how they are built, and he plans to do this by:

  • identifying and bringing forward more land for housing by making greater use of new and existing land assembly powers, and prioritising development on brownfield sites
  • investing in infrastructure through the Affordable Homes Programme and the Housing Infrastructure Fund
  • diversifying the homebuilding industry by offering packages of support to enable new players to complement the work of traditional private sector developers
  • improving the skills, capacity and building methods of the industry by improving London’s construction skills training system and supporting the industry through the risks posed by Brexit

Delivering affordable housing

Whilst a large part of Kahn's proposals revolve around building the homes Londoners need, he has acknowledged that it won’t happen overnight. A £4.82 billion investment has been pledged to support 116,000 affordable home starts through to 2022, to ensure homes are genuinely affordable - with a view to making half of all new homes built affordable - and to protect London's existing social housing.

The framework requires new developments to have a minimum of 35 per cent affordable housing for them to benefit from a Fast Track route through the planning system, and London’s existing affordable homes should be protected and utilised as efficiently as possible.

Putting social housing at the base of the foundation, support will also be given to make efficient use of London’s social housing, including helping tenants who want to move to more appropriate homes, and the Mayor wants any homes that are sold through the Right to Buy or demolished for redevelopment, to be at least replaced on a like for like basis.

The publication of the strategy follows last week's announcement of a new City Hall grant scheme offering councils in London the opportunity to receive grant to build 10,000 new council homes for rent over the next four years, backed by a budget of £1.67bn under the Mayor's Building Council Homes for Londoners programme.

Leaseholders

The strategy also sets out how the Mayor plans to help London’s growing numbers of leaseholders, and address the widespread abuse of leasehold tenure and spiraling ground rents - something NAEA Propertymark has long campaigned for.

A fair leasehold system is particularly important for London where most new homes being built are leasehold. The strategy commits to improving the quality of advice and support available for leaseholders and also extend the London Charter for service charges so that it applies to leasehold properties.

Tackling homelessness and rough sleeping

The impacts of London’s housing crisis are felt by many – yet few experience it more acutely than the thousands of rough sleepers. A recent study estimated that one in 50 Londoners is now homeless, and the Mayor has been clear that, in a city as wealthy as London, we have a moral duty to tackle homelessness head on.

The Mayor’s aim is to make sure there is a route off the streets for every single rough sleeper in London, with those who become homeless supported into sustainable accommodation as quickly as possible. His ‘No Nights Sleeping Rough’ taskforce will provide leadership and coordination and he plans to work with councils, charities, Government, and others to boost services beyond the £8.5 million a year he has already committed toward support for rough sleepers.

Of course, all of these proposals rely on the cooperation of councils, housing associations, enforcement agencies, and private developers. The high level implementation plan, which sets out key actions and Mayoral targets, will be considered by the London Assembly at its next meeting, and it will be interesting to see how the rest of the strategy unfolds, and if the fast pace with which he has begun continues.