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Mayor's draft housing plans not a strategy for radical change

Despite the Mayor of London’s draft plan to increase the supply of housing in the city being called a ‘strategy’, it lacks the strategic approach necessary to bring about the required radical change according to academics from LSE and other housing experts.

In their response to the consultation on the Mayor’s draft housing strategy the group of experts, hosted by LSE London, point out that the target of building 42,000 homes a year is well below the number of households that are expected to form over the next decade – estimated at more than 50,000 per annum.

Professor Christine Whitehead, Professor of Housing Economics at LSE, said: “London desperately needs more housing and a step change to 42,000 new homes – and ideally more – is crucial. However the Mayor has little power to compel boroughs or developers to act. A more partnership approach is needed with all parties involved through, for example, a taskforce”.  

London SkyscrapersAccording to the experts any such taskforce must co-operate and coordinate with the wider South East. A housing strategy must be pursued around realistic figures for the whole region, since the capital’s commuter belt covers most of southeast England.

They also argue that a coherent strategy can help increase the rate of development. This means not just focussing on large brownfield sites which may take decades to build. In addition, it should support small and medium sized builders and the development of small sites, including ‘infilling’ vacant sites within built-up areas, custom build and the conversion of non-residential units.

One way to kick-start development would be via partnership schemes that enable developers to pay for land and meet planning conditions as homes are sold and developments produce income.

Most of the group argued that London would also benefit if a limited area of greenbelt land, with good access and infrastructure, were released for the development of high-quality communities. However, all agreed this must be done with great care, taking account of costs and benefits to local communities and the environment.

Professor Whitehead said: “The Mayor must use his influence and public profile to campaign for change in national policy and resources to achieve structural change and ensure more affordable housing for Londoners in the future.” 

Posted: Wednesday 26 February 2014

For more information

Sue Windebank, LSE press office, t: 020 7955 7060, e: s.windebank@lse.ac.uk