Track, depot

Homes down the track - a marathon and a sprint for TfL

Date published: 
21 June 2017

Key facts

One quarter of London’s land is held in the public sector.

TfL is a significant London landowner, with 5,700 acres of land, but much of it is difficult to exploit because it supports or accommodates operational transport facilities.

The Mayor’s greatest priority is housebuilding and he wants to use TfL’s land to develop “genuinely affordable homes” for Londoners.  TfL has promised that by 2020 it will have started on sites which will ultimately accommodate 10,000 homes.

TfL is prioritising an initial 100 sites for development, but most of these are in Zones 1 and 2, close to transport hubs, which would typically command high market prices.

Our findings

Making better use of public land is important for delivering more homes in London, and TfL is currently working on some 20 sites for housing.  However, it faces some difficult trade-offs in delivering affordable homes at these locations, associated with:

  • their prime locations (meaning significant financial value will be foregone if affordable, rather than market homes are delivered there)
  • operational constraints (such as the restrictions to work undertaken around transport facilities) which usually means added cost and complexity thus reducing the capacity to deliver affordable homes (or increasing the subsidy required to do so)
  • TfL’s own priorities relating to upgrading the transport system.

It looks as though TfL will miss its target of starts on sites by 2020 which will deliver 10,000 homes.  Current data shows 13 sites which may start by then, where only around 4,500 homes are planned.

Summary recommendations

Among our recommendations are that:

  • The Mayor needs to work with the boroughs and TfL to align development objectives for each site, and stick to them, to reduce complexity for developers.
  • TfL needs to ensure effective joint working between its property development and operational and technical staff, to minimise and resolve early the inevitable frictions which will arise for each scheme.
  • TfL and the Mayor should consider a more rapid approach to procurement on a first set of sites, to speed up initial delivery.

Report Impact Review

Read below the report's feedback and media coverage.