The City of London Corporation has said it wants to expand its affordable housing stock - potentially outside of its boundaries - as demand for homes in the capital continues to rise
Chair of the corporation’s policy and resource committee Mark Boleat said the housing problem had been ‘elephant in the room’ for too long and that the City must help boost the numbers of new homes.
Warning that ballooning housing costs were reducing the competitiveness of London ‘as a place to locate’ in the eyes of big business, Boleat said the City was now looking at several possible solutions, such as densifying existing estates, including those it owned in Hackney, Islington, Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark and Tower Hamlets.
Speaking earlier today he said: ‘There is significant potential to build more housing units – infill – on existing housing estates, whilst also improving the amenity and quality of life for residents who already live there.
‘This applies to the City’s estates. We are not taking the lead on this. Imaginative schemes have already been implemented in other authorities.
‘Our initial work already suggests that there is scope for a significant increase in housing units on our estates.’
Boleat said the city surveyor had been instructed to review whether the corporation owned land that ‘lends itself to housing development’.
In his address to the City’s full council on housing policy in London, Boleat also raised questions about the planning system and whether it ‘helped or hindered the delivery of new housing units’.
He asked: ‘Is it sufficient for example, for local authorities to aim simply to meet statutory social housing obligations, when acting as an “enabler” of more new housing units across the whole income spectrum is within our grasp?’
Meanwhile Westminster Council has published additional proposals to develop affordable housing outside its borders.
The authority’s deputy leader Robert Davis told the AJ’s sister title Construction News that the cost of providing affordable housing in the borough was ‘horrendous’, and said the council was looking at options to maximise its output.
His comments were backed up by a draft housing strategy released by Westminster Council last week, which set a target of delivering 1,250 affordable homes over the next five years.
The council said it was ‘constrained by the shortage and high cost of land’ in Westminster, so it was considering a ‘cost-effective use of [its] resources’ to develop housing outside the borough.
In the draft strategy, the council said: ‘No matter what we do, we will never provide enough homes in Westminster for everyone who wants to live here.
‘Even if we meet our target of delivering 250 homes a year, that is still 170 fewer than our housing-needs assessment suggests.
‘So we need to start thinking about whether some people’s needs can be better met by us helping them to access housing outside Westminster, or even by direct provision by the council of housing outside the city.’