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Notes from MIPIM: Boosting housing building in London

London First chief executive Jo Valentine sends us her thoughts from MIPIM.

10 March 2015, Tuesday 16:15

Good lunch with Ric Blakeway, London’s deputy mayor for housing (who incidentally has in the past advised the government of Somaliland). His topic was how do we get house building up to 50,000 a year? We all concluded that was very difficult . . . But some insights . . .

The Greater London Authority should have a group of planning officers which it lends out to boroughs when there are big, complicated projects locally which they simply don’t have enough resource to deal with. Westminster Property Association has paid for planners in Westminster Council, can’t we do the same London-wide? If you were to build 200,000 houses a year nationally it would require an increase in the labour pool of one million people in house building. Is it realistic to expect the construction industry to cope?

Negotiations about viability are time consuming – surely there’s a better way? Some sort of fixed tariff? But how do you agree the tariff?

Ric is also looking for private rented accommodation on a third of new housing zones.

Anyway, the upshot was, if we are going to double house building in London we are going to have to explore new paradigms. We need the mayoralty to try some new approaches on public sector land – like covenants for PRS, fixed tariffs, tax breaks for innovations etc.

The Chancellor and the Mayor announced a new land commission to get some of the public sector land in London out to market. Let’s see some trailblazing on this land. And as Ric pointed out, he’s only got a year left of this Mayoralty so what’s to lose?

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