London mayor Boris Johnson said he has ‘serious concerns’ about the UK’s planning system
He told AJ sister-title Construction News, that the system holds up development in London, with planning departments ‘underpowered’ and decisions taking ‘far too long’.
‘We live in a democracy in which power is dispersed in many places and in which it is very hard to get things through at the scale and pace that we sometimes need.
Johnson brought forward a 1,500-home scheme in East London’s Olympic Park by six years through the creation of a mayoral development corporation.
The East Wick and Sweetwater scheme has been designed by a team led by Studio Egret West and Sheppard Robson (who are joint masterplanners) which also includes Stirling Prize-winning Alison Brooks Architects (ABA), ShedKM, Piercy & Co, Astudio and landscape designers Fabrik.
The mayor’s 2020 vision aims to deliver 42,000 new homes a year to the capital but critics have argued that this target is too low.
Mr Johnson said: ‘Frankly, the first thing critics should do is acknowledge that we’ve built more homes than ever before and that we’re on target to deliver over 100,000 homes – I think the policy that we’re outlining will tackle London’s housing crisis.
‘We are already building phenomenal homes and a phenomenal amount of affordable homes.’
But he added that there was a ‘paradox’ with people wanting more affordable homes but not wanting their own homes to be more affordable.
Asked about greenbelt development, the mayor made ‘a very firm point’ about building on brownfield first.
‘If you start to open up the prospect of greenbelt development, which is much cheaper to build on and much easier for developers to go for, you will take off all the incentive and pressure to do the brownfield regeneration and that would be a great shame.’
Last month the chancellor and mayor published a six-point long term economic plan for London, including giving London boroughs more power over skills funding and planning.
Johnson said it was ‘great news’ and added that ‘it will give us a chance to deliver more young people to the construction trade to the kind of skills in bricklaying or engineering that the trade needs.
‘At the moment you have got lots of kids going into hairdressing [yet] there I a huge demand for [construction workers].’