Housing secretary Robert Jenrick has barred the London Plan from being published in its current state and launched a fierce attack on mayor Sadiq Khan’s housing record
In a damning letter, Jenrick slammed housing delivery in the capital as ‘deeply disappointing’ and said the mayor’s plan would deliver 52,000 homes a year rather than the 66,000 needed.
Khan immediately hit back, accusing the Conservative minister of ‘riding roughshod’ over City Hall’s attempts to finalise the blueprint and criticising his ‘heavy-handed’ tactics.
Jenrick’s letter also took Khan to task over the stalling of ‘critical strategic sites’ such as Old Oak and Park Royal, which he said lost £250 million of government funding because of the mayor’s ‘inability to work successfully with the main landowner’.
Meanwhile, Khan’s introduction of mandatory estate ballots had introduced ‘onerous’ conditions for regeneration projects which were jeopardising housing delivery, Jenrick said. This is despite all estates where ballots have taken place so far achieving positive votes.
As for the London Plan, Jenrick accused the mayor of focusing on one-bed flats, a move he argued could exclude families from living in the capital.
‘You should also be looking to deliver homes which people of different ages, backgrounds and situations in life can live in,’ he said. ‘Your plan tilts away from this, towards one-bed flats at the expense of all else, driving people out of our capital when they want to have a family.’
The mayor’s London Plan added ‘layers of complexity’ which will make development more difficult with policies on ‘things as small as bed linen’, Jenrick argued.
He wrote: ‘Having considered your plan at length, my conclusion is that the necessary decisions to bring more land into the planning system have not been taken, the added complexity will reduce appetite for development further and slow down the system, and throughout the plan you have directly contradicted national policy.
‘As you know, by law you must have regard to the need for your strategies to be consistent with national policies. For these reasons I am left with no choice but to exercise my powers to direct changes.’
Jenrick is trying to run roughshod over the mayor’s efforts to finalise a London Plan
Jenrick has now issued a directive preventing the London Plan from being published without amendments.
A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: ‘The mayor makes no apologies for trying to deliver genuinely affordable housing in the capital while at the same time protecting and enhancing the green belt. The secretary of state is trying to run roughshod over the mayor’s efforts to finalise a London Plan, which will deliver for Londoners and deliver on pledges from the mayor’s manifesto.
’The secretary of state needs to realise that London is best served by the government devolving further funding and powers to the capital to build the affordable homes it urgently needs, instead of taking this heavy-handed approach.’