The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, says he has demonstrated his determination to get London building the affordable homes it needs by “ripping up existing planning rules and calling on homebuilders to develop sites at higher housing densities to substantially increase capacity in the capital”.
In a major housing policy in his new draft London Plan the Mayor has removed what he describes as outdated constraints and rigid density guidelines to give what he hopes would be a significant boost to the number of new and affordable homes given planning permission in the capital.
Sadiq has thrown out Boris Johnson’s policy, which he says proved complicated and set meaningless maximum rules for the number of homes on developments, in favour of boosting the number of well-designed homes sites can deliver.
In his new draft London Plan, the Mayor has set out how he will ask homebuilders to maximise the use of land in the city – and that means developing sites with more homes on them than existing developments nearby that would have had to follow previous guidelines. Sadiq believes increased numbers of homes should be built on sites near town centres or good public transport, reducing the need for car parking spaces within developments. The Mayor’s Plan says proposed development on sites that do not clearly maximise housing density should be refused.
He believes rather that councils – working with developers and housing associations – should take a case-by-case approach to each site to determine its capacity based on surrounding infrastructure.
The new policy also emphasises the importance of good design and will be applicable to buildings of all types, including low-rise, medium and high-rise. This new approach is supported by a far stronger policy on housing standards, including minimum space standards, which sets out how a home should be designed. The Mayor says that, while he is encouraging homebuilders to make best use of land in the capital, he expects councils to refuse any applications that come forward with homes that do not meet his new standards.
The draft London Plan also includes the Mayor’s key strategic housing commitment for 50 per cent of all new homes built to be genuinely affordable – to be achieved through planning, investment and building on public land. It strengthens his new approach offering private developers a fast-track route to planning permission if they reach a minimum of 35 per cent affordable.
New ambitious targets have been set for councils across the capital, as part of an overall London Plan figure of 65,000 homes a year – roughly double the current rate of homebuilding. For the first time, targets in the Plan show how capacity can also be reached on small sites, which must now make a significant contribution to housing supply. Sadiq believes there is capacity for 24,500 homes a year on London’s small sites – typically those between one and 25 homes – and asks boroughs to approve applications for small developments unless they do not meet his strict design standards. It forms part of the Mayor’s commitment to stimulate growth for small and medium-sized builders in the capital, which has for too long had an over-reliance on London’s large developers building the majority of homes in the city.
The Mayor is also using his London Plan to provide greater protections for industrial land while also looking at innovative solutions such as stacking up distribution sheds or encouraging development of industrial workspaces side by side with new homes to knit industry back into the fabric of the city.
In Sadiq’s first London Plan he has also introduced new policies on:
- New growth corridors – including Crossrail 2, Heathrow, Elizabeth Line West, and HS2
- Pubs and culture – Stronger protection for pubs and support for plans for new public houses in suitable locations
- Toilet provision – more public toilets must be built and should be suitable for all users, including disabled people and families with young children
- Green belt and green cover – reaffirmed his commitment to protect London’s Green Belt and other important open spaces and set out plans to help make more than half of London green by 2050
- Transport – Planning for developments to increase bike parking, the importance of public transport links, greater electric car provision outside new homes
- New approach to working with the wider South East – exploring with willing partners opportunities for additional growth in sustainable locations outside London
- Tall buildings – The Mayor supports tall buildings but these must be in the right places and to high design and safety standards – boroughs must identify where these are suitable in principle
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “With London’s population expected to increase by 70,000 every year, reaching 10.8 million in 2041, it’s vital we properly plan for growth with new affordable homes in every area of the capital.
“I am using all of the powers at my disposal in my first draft London Plan to tackle the housing crisis head on – removing ineffective constraints on homebuilders so that we can make the most of precious land in the capital to build more homes in areas with the best transport links.
“My London Plan sets out how we are planning for the challenges our great city faces, but crucially focuses on my vision of a London that welcomes growth, celebrates its diversity and ensures every Londoner gets the opportunity to fulfil their potential.”
The draft London Plan now has a three-month consultation.