MQT on 2016-01-20
Session date: 
January 20, 2016
Question By: 
Andrew Boff
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


How will you be supporting the government's plans to directly commission new homes on public land in Old Oak Common?


Answer for Housebuilding

Answer for Housebuilding

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Thank you, Andrew.  The Government’s announcement is very welcome.  The Old Oak and Park Royal site is going to deliver more than 25,000 new homes.

The way that we can best support the idea of direct commissioning of those homes is for London government - the Greater London Authority [GLA] - to be given the land parcels.  That is really what is required.  We need all of that land to be assembled, as it was at the Olympic Park, in order to push that all ahead.  Some of it is in various bits and bobs owned by other bits of the public sector, not us.

Andrew Boff AM:  Do you agree, Mr Mayor, that the scheme presents a really fantastic opportunity to support small developers and self-builders in London, and therefore get housing built much more quickly than otherwise would have been the case?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  We will see.  There is, obviously, an opportunity for small builders and developers to apply, although I cannot make any predictions now about who will be successful.

Andrew Boff AM:  Already we have received a commitment from Ed Lister [Sir Edward Lister, Chief of Staff and Deputy Mayor, Policy and Planning] about engaging with organisations like Create Streets to ensure that the quality of the developments is what Londoners actually want.

I was just wondering, however, how this approach that the Government has adopted and you have adopted with Old Oak Common can be used to encourage more public sector land to be brought forward for development in London.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Currently, 25% of London is owned by the public sector.  Huge quantities of land are in the hands of the state.  What needs to happen is that those parcels or polygons of land need to be agglomerated and the different bodies that own them need to come together and work out development plans.  For instance, across the city you will find that a chunk will be owned by Network Rail, a chunk by Transport for London [TfL] and a chunk by the National Health Service (NHS).  They will be contiguous and there should be a plan to development them all but it is not done.

What we want is powers for the London Land Commission to direct that amalgamation of land.  That is the way forward.  We are in discussion with the Government about the way that the current Housing Bill can be used to help to speed up that process.

Andrew Boff AM:  I know you like these questions.  Do you agree with me that your approach, combined with the co-operation of the Government, has replaced housing obstacles with optimism?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  That is right.  There is a massive opportunity now.  Anybody who looks around London can see that we are building at a faster rate than at any time in the last 40 years.  There is an extraordinary growth going on across the city.  That is a testament to the dynamic approach that is currently being taken.

However, you have to build stuff that is in keeping with the city and that will last for a long time and so I appreciate the point you make about Create Streets and all of those people.  Sometimes, I have to say, where you have a high public transport access level (PTAL) ratio and where you have good transport links, you have to be able to go high.  Not every Londoner wants a tall building near them, but some of these tall buildings are truly wonderful.  That is the way forward, very often.

Andrew Boff AM:  Let us not get into the tall building argument.  Otherwise, we will be here all day, Mr Mayor.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I know.

Andrew Boff AM:  Thank you very much.