Housing Zones announced

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, and Mayor of London, Boris Johnson have announced twenty new housing zones that they hope will house 50,000 new homes.

Included on the list of zones is Southall, and a pair of estates in Wandsworth.

Housing zones are a new approach being used by the government, to get new homes built quickly. Local authorities identify and package together brownfield land which could be used for development into a housing zone, remove all a range of planning restrictions across it and partner with a developer to build new homes. The absence of planning constraints in these zones could significantly accelerate construction.

Central government supports housing zones by making loans available to local authorities for necessary infrastructure and other remedial work on the site. Last November the Mayor’s Housing Strategy set out plans for ten potential housing zones, today’s announcement will double that as central government and the Greater London Authority (GLA) will each offer £200 million for twenty zones.

To ensure that developments in housing zones progress as quickly as possible, the government will grant the Mayor substantial powers, in the form of Mayoral Development Orders, to remove planning obstacles.

These new zones are in line with the major shake-up of planning rules to support house building announced by the Chancellor in his Mansion House Speech.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer said: “A key part of our long term economic plan is to build the houses Britain needs, so that families have the economic security that comes with home ownership.”

The Mayor of London said: “Housing is the biggest challenge facing London’s economic development and these new £400 million housing zones will turbo boost housing supply across the capital.”

The neighbouring Winstanley and York Road estates in Battersea have been named on the list of potential Housing Zones.

Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth Council, said: “We are developing an ambitious masterplan for these two estates that will offer enormous benefits to the community, provide much needed housing and vastly improve the local environment.

“We set out our plans to the mayor who has given us a resounding endorsement by highlighting the estates as a front runner for housing zone designation. Boris has recognised the benefits we can unlock right on the doorstep of the Clapham Junction transport hub.  

“There may also be opportunities to share risk, develop flexible tenures to meet local needs, access funding to support infrastructure improvements and offer greater freedoms over how the project is financed. This could include using the proceeds from Right to Buy sales to invest in new homes.  

“All this would put our plans to improve the Winstanley and York Road estates on a surer footing and help us create a much better quality of life for the people living here.”

The collaborative approach and high levels of local support were key factor in the mayor’s decision to identify the project as a front runner.

The government will also be creating ten new housing zones outside London. This will be backed by up to £200 million of central government loans for infrastructure and clean-up work on the sites.

The funding for housing zones will be allocated by competition. The Mayor has published his prospectus inviting bids from local authorities in London. The Department for Communities & Local Government will publish a prospectus inviting bids from local authorities across the country later this year.

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