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Labour slams Boris over lower housing targets

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Labour points finger at London Mayor for ‘accepting defeat’ with unambitious building target that will ‘exacerbate housing crisis’

Nicky Gavron, Labour’s London Assembly Planning spokesperson has slammed Mayor Boris Johnson for setting a minimum target to build only 42,000 homes per annum, despite the Mayor’s own evidence showing that 62,000 are needed each year for the next decade to tackle the capital’s acute housing shortage.

According to Labour, the Mayor has failed to provide any strategic direction on how the remaining 20,000 homes will be provided. Affordable housing targets within the plan are set at 17,000 homes per year.

Gavron said that the Mayor’s ‘complete absence of ambition’ will not only aggravate the already extreme housing shortage in London, but will also leave his success with a framework that ‘everyone knows is inadequate’. She called for ‘genuine affordable housing’ rather than ‘stratospherically expensive luxury flats’ to relieve the crisis.

‘We need creative and ambitious solutions… These proposals not only underestimate the need for housing, the offer absolutely no new plans on how the Mayor proposes to increase the number of homes being built’, she said.

Jenny Jones, Green Party assembly member who seconded the motion, said: ‘The Mayor should do more to protect industry, but instead with these alterations I’m deeply concerned he will accelerate the loss around town centres’.

The Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) released by the GLA in 2013 estimated that there are almost 349,000 households in ‘some form of backlog’ needed, with another 102,000 market housing needed as affordable, and a further 126,000 overcrowded households in affordable housing needing to move to an affordable home of a more suitable size.

A spokesperson for the Mayor said: ‘The Mayor has set the most ambitious housebuilding targets in the history of the Greater London Authority, based on the land available to build new homes in the capital. He is also bringing forward many thousands more in new Opportunity Areas, and through intensifying residential opportunities in town centres’.

They continued: ‘Over his two terms, he is on track to deliver a record 100,000 low cost homes for Londoners, with more than 81,000 already completed. In this financial year, more affordable homes are expected to be built than in any other year since 1981. The Mayor continues to stimulate house building in the capital with a range of pioneering new policies, including accelerating supply through housing zones and a housing bank - both delivering affordable housing options for hard working Londoners’.

These new housing targets were part of the alterations to the London Plan that were put forward to the London Assembly today, with 14 of 22 members voting against the proposals. To overturn the plan would have required a two-thirds majority vote.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Ben Derbyshire

    The London Society is hosting a debate on this subject, chaired by the BBC's Mark Easton, with the title #CantPayWontStay on 14 April. The event is a sell-out, but the Society's paper, 'Building Greater London' can be downloaded here:

    http://www.hta.co.uk/news/posts/building-greater-london

    In summary:
    1) Building Greater London requires a complete overhaul of the governance of an area that extends well beyond the boundaries of the present GLA area.
    2) The London Society is promoting a Royal Commission to consider appropriate mechanisms for UK’s City regions alongside the rapidly emerging devolution agenda.
    3) We should re-assert the primacy of the Green Belt, refine the policies that protect it, invest in it to improve its biodiversity and improve access to it for Londoners.
    4) This requires city leadership with a purpose and a plan to deliver diverse housing in a sustainable context of the kind London’s citizens want - a plan for delivery, not just a spatial one.
    5) A century after the London Society first proposed it, we should finish off the ragged fringe of London neatly with groups of ‘new and seemly buildings’, particularly where arterial routes cut across the green and enter London.
    6) The vision should embrace the concept of collective responsibility and shared ownership of the capital’s precious assets.
    7) The Mayor’s Private Rented Covenant exemplifies how management might be regulated in such a way as to enable the sharing of resources, including space, and simultaneously open the door to more diversity in ways of living available to Londoners.
    8) The Mayoralty would thus be in a position to promote and encourage diverse, not standard, solutions to Londoners’ housing needs, as others have done in Melbourne, Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen, New York and in the port city of Iquique, Chile, examples which are illustrated in the paper.
    9) Such a diversity would be an appropriate response to the lively entrepreneurial and culturally inventive mix that has come to be such an attractive feature of contemporary London life.

    I shall argue that the capital is in danger of becoming a city of rentiers, with unheard of windfalls accruing to a few landowners, unless we strengthen the governance of the city with devolved powers of tax and spend, including a levy on land value, and promote a much more diverse housing offer.

    Ben Derbyshire.
    Managing Partner, HTA Design LLP
    Chair, The Housing Forum.

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