Boris launches Housing Strategy

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson is bidding to undertake a strategic role on surplus public land, as part of an extension of his land responsibilities in the capital to help housing development move faster.

This comes as the Mayor published his updated Housing Strategy, which provides an in depth overview of London’s housing needs and a range of proposed solutions to increase supply, stimulate building and tackle demand.

Measures include:

  • Promoting ‘lifetime neighbourhoods’ in town centre developments for older people who need easier access to facilities to enhance independent living;
  • Support for leaseholders facing rising service charges and lobbying for greater statutory protection;
  • Plans to create more than 1,000 new homes for long term private rent and improve standards for tenants;
  • New ‘graduate’ private rent housing schemes for young people
  • The launch of 10 Housing Zones and three Garden Suburbs

The strategy sets out a long-term ambition to increase supply to at least 42,000 new homes per annum, around double what has been achieved over the last 20 years. Of these, at least 17,000 should be affordable with 5,000 for purpose-built long-term market rent.

The Mayor says he has already supported the building of over 70,000 low cost affordable homes to buy or rent across London, and that he will deliver 100,000 new homes by the end of his term.

He also says he has secured £1.2 billion to fund a further 45,000 homes to 2018, introduced the First Steps scheme that’s helping 50,000 Londoners on to the property ladder and released public land for development worth £3 billion since 2012.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said: “My Housing Strategy sets out measures to tackle the colossal pressure on London’s property market and address the chronic 30 year failure to build enough homes in our city. The good news is we have capacity for 42,000 more homes a year in inner London alone, plus a multitude of prime opportunity areas and programmes to trigger development. For me there is no single more important issue now than boosting supply, increasing investment in affordable housing and helping hard working Londoners find homes. I can’t do this alone, and will be working closely with government, developers and boroughs to increase supply, stimulate building and tackle demand.”

Deputy Mayor for Housing and Land, Richard Blakeway said: “This strategy offers a range of measures that can provide the structural changes needed in our housing market to increase supply, attract new players and forms of investment and increase the choice of housing products. We need a wider range of affordable housing and market sale homes, supported by strong new measures like our proposed London Housing Bank and Housing Zones to truly get to grips with the enormous demand for housing of every tenure in London.”

The in-depth strategy, Homes for London includes the following recommendations:

  • New measures to protect leaseholders: London residential leaseholders in the private sector are disproportionately impacted by excessive charges, bad practice among freeholders and barriers to achieving the right to manage. To address this Mayor will be introducing new safeguards through GLA housing programmes and lobbying Government for legislative changes that will protect leaseholders through statutory regulation against excessive, unclear or unfair charges and make it easier to apply for control of freeholds.
  • Driving supply through private rent to accelerate building and raise standards: The strategy explicitly recognises the growing importance of the private rented sector, not only for groups who have traditionally been housed in that sector, such as young single people, but also for families with children. The housing strategy sets a target of 5,000 purpose-built rented homes per annum, within the minimum 42,000 target. The new London Rental Standard promotes professional standards of management for landlords and letting agents, aiming to accredit 100,000 landlords by 2016.
  • Up to 10 Housing Zones will be launched with innovative approaches to maximise the capacity of key sites to rapidly deliver new homes and the Mayor will promote at least three new “garden suburbs” on brownfield land. City Hall will consider new housing zones to accelerate building homes that are affordable for ordinary working Londoners, in areas where there is a local desire for increased housing supply. Building on the concept of the governments Enterprise Zones, this work will explore, with local and national government, mechanisms which could accelerate housing delivery through funding, land assembly, including potential acquisitions, and planning incentives and a range of new models for delivery. The Mayor will also work with government to establish a strategic role to dispose of surplus strategic public land, including within Housing Zones.
  • Older Londoners: it is vital that all new housing is accessible to the changing needs of older people. Older and less mobile people need easier access to community facilities such as post offices and doctors’ surgeries which can enhance independent living and redress isolation. This makes town centre locations particularly appropriate for purpose-built accommodation, especially for the active elderly. For many, such developments will provide an opportunity to downsize to a more manageable home which will, in turn, improve the wider housing market by freeing up larger properties, and help tackle overcrowding. The Mayor will also support efforts to introduce tax incentives for downsizers, including exploring with government potential relief around stamp duty or inheritance tax.
  • Increasing investment: The Mayor is seeking more flexibility in the rules governing GLA and borough borrowing for housing and is also working on a London Housing Bank to accelerate the pace of development. To provide the land for development the Mayor will have an exit strategy for all GLA landholdings by 2016, will seek a greater role in bringing forward surplus government land and will lobby government for additional funding to acquire land to drive housing delivery.
  • Housing for younger Londoners: The Mayor is looking at introducing a tailored housing offer for younger people, living independently for the first time. Detailed work will follow but options include purpose-built ‘graduate’ subsided housing, examining new ways of delivering shared housing and considering de-mountable ‘modular’ approaches to making best use of land before it is developed for the long-term.
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