Bigger, bolder braver; how far could housing strategy go?December 21, 2017
Mairead Carroll, Programme Director, Housing
In his foreword for the draft London Housing Strategy (LHS) the Mayor writes that “London’s housing crisis is the single biggest barrier to prosperity, growth, and fairness facing Londoners today.” Once the final version of the strategy has been approved, it will set the framework for future housing development across to the capital and will be the benchmark on which Londoners will measure the Mayor and GLA’s performance.
Very few will doubt that London needs more homes, so it’s great to see the Mayor’s draft strategy prioritise the supply of new homes. However, if this increase in supply is to be achieved he will need to go further and faster on many of the policies outlined in the draft.
At a breezy 236 pages it would be impossible to cover all the key policies in one blog, however, there are a couple of areas in which the draft strategy could be more ambitious
The Mayor’s new interventionist approach to land assembly and pro-active use of compulsory purchase powers is a welcome one and a natural progression from Housing Zones. However, to move faster, the London centre of expertise should be established immediately.
In addition, it is unrealistic to think that current land supply is sufficient to meet the capital’s housing target therefore the housing strategy should not rule out reviewing London’s Green Belt. The Mayor should work with boroughs to review their Green Belt and consider how land close to existing or future transport nodes with poor environmental or civic value could better serve Londoners. Supporting sustainable, high-quality, well-designed residential development that incorporates truly accessible green space would bring benefits for all.
Outer London supply
The strategy highlights two policies that are particularly relevant to increasing housing supply in outer London – supporting town centre regeneration and more development on small sites. While we agree with this analysis, an increase in housing density is equally important to housing growth in outer London and this should be explicitly referenced. Indeed, outer London is lagging significantly behind inner and central London in terms of housing supply. Boroughs in transport zones 5-6 are set to build just 17 per cent of the homes required in 2017 (under the old London Plan housebuilding target). If London is to meet its increased housebuilding target, the whole capital will need to play its part in accommodating more homes.
To meet the needs of Londoners and to build the 66,000 homes that the capital requires a year, the GLA must evolve from an organisation that sets policies and distributes limited government money to fund housebuilding, into an organisation that pushes, and where necessary intervenes, to drive the delivery of more homes.
See more in London First’s full response here
Hear more about what City Hall and London’s borough leaders doing to deliver more homes at Building London Week