Mayor sets out bold vision to tackle London’s housing needs

25 November 2013

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson today announced initial new funding of more than £1 billion to deliver thousands more low cost homes as he warned that London needed at least 42,000 homes a year to meet the demands of the city’s ever increasing population.

During a keynote speech to launch his new Housing Strategy ‘Homes For London’ for public consultation, the Mayor said that housing supply has become the biggest challenge facing London’s economic development.

The initial new funding package of over £1 billion will support the delivery of 45,000 more low cost homes for hard working Londoners. Further funding will be unveiled shortly.

Since the Mayor assumed control of housing budgets the number of affordable housing starts has doubled. He is on target to build 100,000 low cost homes by 2016, help 50,000 Londoners buy their home (with low deposits) through his First Steps programme and has released over 300 acres of land which has given a £3bn economic boost to London.

Today on a visit to Greenwich Square, the Mayor put forward a range of pioneering measures to boost housing supply, stimulate building and produce more low cost homes. The Greenwich Square development, on land owned by the Greater London Authority, will provide 645 new homes for Londoners including apartments, maisonettes and townhouses. Around half of these will be low cost homes available to rent or to buy on a shared ownership basis alongside a public square with cafes and restaurants, a leisure centre, library and an NHS health centre.

The Mayor toured the Greenwich site and joined the construction team as they mixed cement for building new homes, before addressing an audience of key housing stakeholders and chairing a question and answer session.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said: "For over thirty years, regardless of boom and bust, governments of every hue have failed to build enough homes. With London's unprecedented population growth, housing supply and affordability is now our biggest challenge and we need to double the number of homes being built. "This requires a radical shift in how we prioritise housing to ensure we do not compromise our economic growth, and a collective effort from City Hall, government, and industry to treat housing as an essential infrastructure. "We are overseeing the largest release of public land for a generation to ensure we maximize housing supply. We’ll have delivered 100,000 new low cost homes but we won’t stop there. "The new funding and plans today will ensure thousands more hard working Londoners are helped with homes over the next decade, together with a raft of new and innovative ideas to unlock finance and the huge potential to develop new homes and communities across the capital "

The Deputy Mayor of Housing and Property, Richard Blakeway said: "Housing is a critical issue for all major global cities from Paris to New York and Hong Kong. At City Hall we have a strong track record in helping 50,000 Londoners buy their own homes and we’re on track to deliver 100,000 low cost homes. But this alone won’t solve the housing demand. We need rolling programmes of investment joining up housing and transport, and the backing of all major players to really solve the issue in London. From introducing housing zones, launching a housing bank and pumping more funding into low cost homes, our draft housing strategy has dynamic solutions to London’s housing needs, and we look forward to seeing everyone’s views during the consultation."

Key polices in the draft strategy include:

- Minimum new 42,000 homes annual target to meet the unprecedented demand – more than any point since the 1930s. Tackling the housing challenge isn’t the Mayor’s responsibility alone – it requires action from everyone, from government, developers, housing associations and lenders.

- Initial new funding of more than £1 billion to support the delivery of 45,000 more low cost homes for hard working Londoners into the next Mayoral term, with further funding unveiled shortly.

- Expand FIRST STEPS to quarter of a million Londoners over the next decade to help them buy their own home. The programme is currently on track to help 50,000 Londoners (with an average household income of £33,000) own a share in their first home and the mayor would like thousands more people to access this opportunity. At the moment these schemes represent just 1.3% of overall housing stock in London.

- Renewed call for Property Taxes and Stamp Duty to be devolved to London. With almost half of stamp duty land tax being raised in London, it would make sense for London to retain stamp duty to invest in essential infrastructure that will unlock housing growth but also reform it so the tax, to make it easier for people to buy homes for the first time and to move. Scotland and Wales will soon retain their stamp duty.

- Purpose-built private rent to accelerate house building and raise standards. The housing strategy sets a target of 5,000 purpose-built rented homes per annum, within the minimum 42,000 target. To stimulate the market, the GLA has signed the first deal for purpose-built private rent in Elephant and Castle which includes pension-fund backing, and will continue this work by releasing three sites to market that could deliver up to 3,000 homes, a third of which could be purpose-built private rent. We want developers with large sites across London to use the model to accelerate what would otherwise be very slow built-out timescales

- Housing Zones City Hall will consider new housing zones to accelerate building in housing schemes in existing Opportunity Areas. Building on the concept of the governments Enterprise Zones, this work will explore, with local and national government, mechanisms which could accelerate housing delivery in these areas through tax and planning incentives.

- A London Housing Bank would speed up building on large sites. Instead of land lying vacant, sometimes for many years before being developed, the homes will be built earlier, through a loan. The GLA will publish a discussion paper about the London Housing Bank in 2014 and will in principle invest over £160 million.

- 21st Century Garden Suburbs The Mayor will lead the regeneration of large parts of London to create 21st century suburbs. By facilitating the release of vacant public land for housing development and long-term partnerships with the private sector on major sites, the Mayor will create new garden suburbs, e.g. Barking Riverside, where the GLA is supporting the creation of a new town larger than Windsor, and Beam Park.