Boris sets out housing vision

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson today announced initial new funding of more than £1 billion to deliver low cost homes.

During his speech launching his new Housing Strategy – ‘Homes For London’ – for public consultation, he said that London needed at least 42,000 homes a year to meet the demands of the city’s ever increasing population.

The Mayor said that housing supply has become the biggest challenge facing London’s economic development.

The initial new funding package of over £1 billion will support the delivery of 45,000 more low cost homes, said the Mayor.

The Mayor of London said: “With London’s unprecedented population growth, housing supply and affordability is now our biggest challenge and we need to double the number of homes being built.

“This requires a radical shift in how we prioritise housing to ensure we do not compromise our economic growth, and a collective effort from City Hall, government, and industry to treat housing as an essential infrastructure.”

The Deputy Mayor of Housing and Property, Richard Blakeway said: “We need rolling programmes of investment joining up housing and transport, and the backing of all major players to really solve the issue in London. From introducing housing zones, launching a housing bank and pumping more funding into low cost homes, our draft housing strategy has dynamic solutions to London’s housing needs, and we look forward to seeing everyone’s views during the consultation.”

Key polices in the draft strategy include initial funding of £1bn targeted to deliver a minimum of 45,000 new low cost homes; an expansion of the First Steps scheme to a quarter of a million people over the next decade to help them buy their own home; a renewed call for property taxes and Stamp Duty to be devolved to London; purpose-built private rent to accelerate house building; Housing Zones – like enterprise zones – to accelerate building in housing schemes in existing Opportunity Areas; a London Housing Bank to grant loans to speed up building; and 21st Century Garden Suburbs where through the release of vacant public land for housing development and long-term partnerships with the private sector, the Mayor will aim to create new garden suburbs, like Barking Riverside.

Jonathan Seager, Head of Housing Policy at London First, says the plan is good, but that more radical thinking is needed: “The Mayor has set  a target of building 42,000 homes a year over the next ten years – up from the current target 32,000 – but 42,000 is not enough. There is a huge mismatch between supply and demand – we should be looking at building 50,000-plus more homes every year.”

“‘Re-zoning’ some sections of London as priority areas for housing is a step forward and is worth pursuing if real incentives are on offer to stimulate house building. But these housing zones will only get us so far – the reality is these zones won’t provide what we really need in terms of volume.”

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