London Mayor Boris Johnson has likened the new wave of buildings emerging on the capital’s skyline to ‘strange and exotic’ flora in a David Attenborough documentary
Johnson made the claims during his keynote speech focusing on the housing crisis at the inaugural MIPIM UK property fair at Olympia.
On his arrival at the conference centre in west London, a group of protestors heckled the mayor demanding ‘Homes for people not for Profit’.
Once inside Johnson spelled out his plans for half a million new homes in London over the next 10 years - including 320,000 on 38 brownfield opportunity areas alone – before describing how he saw the current wave of development.
He said: ‘I don’t know if you have had a chance to look at the skyline of London in the last few months but it [is growing] with some absolutely extraordinary schemes.
‘It is like an accelerated David Attenborough nature report about the return of spring in the Canadian tundra after hibernation – these strange and exotic [buildings] which the developers are emerging.’
Johnson went on: ‘‘Wonderful structures are going up. We can build beautiful new homes for people of this city with London brick as the dominant vernacular – yes, beautiful stuff.’
‘[We can build] green space, adequate playing space and decent room sizes.’
The London Mayor also championed greater devolution for cities outside the capital. Dismissing claims that less money should be given to London in an attempt to level the national playing field, Johnson said: ‘I want to dispose of two popular non-solution [to the housing crisis] – the first is to bash London and to cut investment in the city to stimulate the rest of the UK.
‘I agree it makes sense to re-balance the UK economy. I’ve driven down some streets in the north where you can buy fine terrace houses for the price of fish and chips. We need to sort it out.
‘But the answer is not to punish London for its success. It is to give our cities fiscal freedom, we should [look at] devolution to English cities. The answer is to connect London up properly with the rest of the country. I am a believer in HS2 if done properly. Rather than attacking London we want the London affect to spread and ripple out. ‘
Johnson went on: ‘The second non-answer to the current crisis is to claim it is all the fault of the international investors [who buy homes ahead of Londoners] and we need a pitchfork to repel the nasty foreign money.
‘That is absolute rubbish. International money only accounts for 3 per cent of [property deals in London] and that is the same as it has been for the last 30 years.