Revised Early Minor Alterations to the London Plan

Tuesday 3 September 2013, 3:30pm

Motion detail

The Assembly hereby resolves to reject the Mayor’s Revised Early Minor Alterations to the London Plan.

The London Assembly therefore asks that the Mayor make further revisions. We agree with the overwhelming majority of London Boroughs – Labour, Conservative, and Liberal Democrat controlled – that were opposed to the revised policies on affordable housing on the basis that: (a) they will make ‘affordable housing’ unaffordable for those who need it; (b) they are very likely to lead to a reduction in the amount of family-sized affordable housing being built across Greater London; and (c) they contradict the spirit of localism by preventing boroughs from setting affordable rent caps with regard to local circumstances and local need. These boroughs included:

·           Barking and Dagenham - Labour

·           Bexley – Conservative

·           Brent – Labour

·           Camden- Labour

·           City of London – N/A

·           Croydon– Conservative

·           Enfield – Labour

·           Royal Borough of Greenwich – Labour

·           Hackney – Labour

·           Hillingdon – Conservative

·           Islington – Labour

·           Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea – Conservative

·           Royal Borough of Kingston — Liberal Democrat

·           Newham – Labour

·           Richmond upon Thames – Conservative

·           Southwark – Labour

·           Sutton – Liberal Democrat

·           Tower Hamlets — Independent

·           Waltham Forest – Labour

·           Wandsworth — Conservative

·           Westminster City Council – Conservative

This Assembly shares the concerns of the London Borough of Bexley, in arguing at the consultation stage that:

“Our analysis indicates that up to 80% market rent is likely to be possible for households requiring one or two bedroom, and in some areas three bedroomed housing. However, for larger families, the relationship between local incomes and local house prices is such that local influence on rent levels is required to ensure that affordable rented homes do indeed meet the same needs as those eligible for social rented housing.”

We support the view of Westminster City Council in arguing that:

“We do not believe affordable housing should be secured irrespective of whether people can afford it.

This Assembly also supports the view of The Royal Borough of Kingston Upon Thames that:

“RBK is concerned that rent levels of up to 80% of market rent in London are not affordable. New “affordable” homes at this level will only meet the needs of those in the upper income levels of intermediate need; leaving them inaccessible to low income households.”

We support the view of London Borough of Croydon that:

“In Croydon affordability issues are less extreme than they are elsewhere as rent levels are lower than in many London boroughs… We believe that the Mayor needs to take a flexible approach to these issues, which recognises the variations and constraints in the way the affordable rent model operates in different parts of London. In this respect, Croydon would caution against an overly prescriptive approach to affordable rent levels in the London Plan.”

We support the view of the London Borough of Richmond that:

“The Plan could be clarified further that flexibility may be necessary at the local levels to meet local priorities and address concerns about affordability in light of local market circumstances”

We endorse the view of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea that:

“The thrust is clearly that Councils should not be setting their own affordable rent levels – they should be set by the Mayor through the London Housing Strategy. This goes against the whole Localism agenda where local circumstances should be taken into account.

… The reason why the Mayor has adopted this approach is to maximise the delivery of affordable housing and he is concerned that boroughs may fetter this approach by setting their own affordable rent levels. However, account has not been taken of those boroughs which have very high residential rental levels. There is little point in maximising the delivery of affordable housing if it is not affordable, and such housing would not be affordable in Kensington and Chelsea if affordable rents could not be set locally.”

We further endorse the position of London Borough of Islington that:

“Circumstances in different parts of London vary drastically, both in terms of house prices and income level of local residents, as well as around issues related to unemployment benefit dependency. It is unnecessarily harmful – and inconsistent with the shared objective of creating mixed and balanced communities – to impose on London boroughs this “one size fits all” policy approach.”

The boroughs’ position has been supported by the independent Inspector who, following a comprehensive Examination in Public comprising of representations from all the key stakeholders, interested parties and experts has made a series of recommendations that this Assembly believes must be included in the final Plan. Anything other than full acceptance of these amendments would lead to an intentional erosion of London’s mixed communities, inevitably resulting in a gradual hollowing out of low-income households from inner-London, and would be against localism by actively preventing boroughs from meeting the housing needs of local people.

This Assembly is clear that it would support a subsequent revision of the London Plan that incorporates the recommendations made by the independent Inspector.