The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has outlined his plans for a new generation of social housing for Londoners.
Sadiq’s new £4 billion Affordable Homes Programme for 2021-26 aims to build new safe, green, well-designed social housing, and to deliver on his ambition that high-quality homes shouldn’t be the preserve of the rich.
The new Affordable Homes Programme (AHP) will run concurrently with the current 2016-23 programme, which has been extended by one year due to the pandemic, and together they aim to produce 82,000 new homes from April 2021 onwards.
The Mayor has long argued that the most acute need in London is for low-cost homes to rent and has persuaded the Government to allow more than half the new programme to fund social rented homes.
This will be the Mayor’s second AHP. He has hit every single one of the delivery targets in the current Homes for Londoners: Affordable Homes Programme 2016-2023. Last year, the Mayor says London saw the highest number of affordable homes starts since Greater London Authority records began in 2003. This included a greater number of new council homes started than in any year since 1983.
The Mayor has set ambitious targets for London to be a zero-carbon city by 2030 and expects homes built with AHP funding to be environmentally sustainable. The new sustainability standards include requirements for all developments of ten or more homes to be net zero-carbon and to incorporate sustainable urban green spaces.
Housing providers wishing to bid for funds from the new AHP will also have to meet new conditions on building safety and design, including the installation of sprinklers or other fire suppression systems in new blocks of flats; a ban on combustible materials being used in external walls for all residential development, regardless of height; minimum floor-to-ceiling heights and a requirement for private outdoor space; a ‘sunlight clause’ requiring all homes with three or more bedrooms to be dual aspect, any single aspect one- or two-bedroom homes to not be north-facing and at least one room to have direct sunlight for at least part of the day.
Providers must also live up to new equality, diversity and inclusion standards, with training for all employees, a zero-tolerance approach to discrimination and a commitment to recruiting from diverse and under-represented groups. In addition, they will also be expected to publish details of their gender and ethnicity pay gaps.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Despite significant progress over the last four years to build the homes our city needs, the reality is too many Londoners still can’t afford a decent home to rent or buy.
“This is why I have put the twin goals of affordability and quality at the centre of my new Affordable Homes Programme. All Londoners deserve a safe, secure home with enough space to live comfortably, and private outside space to enjoy fresh air. I want to deliver a new generation of social housing in London that sets the standard nationally when it comes to excellent design, safety and sustainability.
“Despite Government Ministers failing to provide London with the full funding our city needs, I’m determined to help build the high quality, genuinely affordable homes that Londoners so desperately need and deserve.”
Helen Evans, Chair of the G15 and Chief Executive of Network Homes, said: “Whilst the G15 strongly support The Mayor’s ambitions for the programme, there are many factors including building safety remediation costs and the economic outlook which may influence our appetite for this programme.
“We welcome the clarity on the bidding process in the guidance, which will help our members’ plans for the future delivery of new affordable homes in the capital.”