LSE calls for high-level London housing summit

It is essential that the summit has high-level buy-in from people with the ability to make commitments to produce an action programme
UK homes DagMary used under CC0 Creative Commons

A high-level summit to address the London housing crisis has been called for by LSE London.

A forum, where all the main players in the London housing market can discuss the challenges they face and commit to a coherent plan of action, offers the best chance of creating negotiated solutions to barriers to development, said the research centre.  

LSE London, which focuses on the economic and social issues of London and its surrounding regions, made the call at the launch of a new report, ‘A sustainable Increase in London’s Housing Supply?’ .

The report makes it clear that there has been significant improvement in stakeholders’ understanding of what is needed to accelerate housing development in London. There have also been some notable successes especially in the numbers of new homes provided.  Yet this is nowhere near enough to enable the step change required to meet London’s housing needs. There are both structural and immediate barriers to be overcome to achieve that breakthrough.  

The summit’s aim would be to gain a better understanding of why the supply of housing has proved unresponsive to policies designed to increase it and also to look closely at how to move forward, to agree common goals and publicly commit to a plan of action.

The summit would need to be organised by a neutral ‘third party’ and would involve a concentrated set of meetings and discussions in a single venue in London, over a few days or weeks.

Kath Scanlon, Assistant Professorial Research Fellow at LSE London, said: “A summit would let us start to develop a more holistic view of the London housing supply. It is a tightly interlinked system and it is difficult to have an overview of how it works, even for those that work in it.

“It is essential that the summit has high-level buy-in from people with the ability to make commitments to produce an action programme, including ministers.

“Such a pledge would be a further opportunity for the government to emphasise its commitment to housing, alongside the welcome recent renaming of DCLG to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.”

Professor Christine Whitehead, Professor Emeritus in Housing Economics, added: “A summit would only be the first step in building for the future. There would have to be regular analysis of progress, and assessment against the agreed targets. We also need new positive policies to help particular groups who are currently losing out - notably younger working Londoners paying through the nose to live in poor quality overcrowded housing conditions.”