Mayor of London promises to build 42,000 new homes a year
Labour accuses Boris Johnson of failing to tackle true scale of housing crisis
London mayor Boris Johnson has set out plans to build 420,000 homes in London over the next 10 years, an ambition that requires a doubling of the current annual output of housing.
Unveiling his new draft housing strategy, Johnson said the Greater London Authority will support a variety of measures, including encouraging new private sector builders to enter the market, in order to meet the target of a minimum of 42,000 homes a year for the next 10 years.
But Labour immediately accused him of underestimating the amount of housing needed and of wasting the last five years.
Under the strategy, published for consultation today, 15,000 of the new homes delivered annually will have to be affordable, and a further 5,000 will have to be made available for private sector renters.
Johnson said London had negotiated a £1 billion share of the £3 billion affordable housing settlement for 2015-18 announced by George Osborne at the summer Spending Round. He said the target would be met with the help of this funding, greater autonomy for London finances, greater institutional investment in rented housing, and use of public land.
Launching the strategy at the site of the Greenwich Square development, Johnson said: “In the last 30 years we’ve built almost half of the homes we need, which has turned our housing problem into a crisis. There are many young people with decent jobs, including some working at City Hall, without a hope of getting on to the housing ladder.”
He outlined plans to create 10 housing zones, inspired by Margaret Thatcher’s enterprise zones, that would encourage housebuilding through tax incentives and looser planning rules.
Johnson dismissed the perceived negative impact of foreign investment in London housing, saying overseas buyers helped get schemes off the ground. However, the strategy does seek to address the issue by proposing to ban London developers from marketing schemes to overseas investors before launching them on the London market.
“There are some fantastic places to build these homes all across London, from Battersea to the Royal Docks and from Greenwich to Croydon,” said the mayor.
“But we have to ensure that these are inspiring new homes in attractive neighbourhoods and vibrant town centres, and that they are well connected to jobs – not just serried ranks of stultifying rabbit hutches.
“London’s history shows us time and again that you can only build new homes and create new jobs if you can link these with a world-class transport network. So we need to make the best of the massive neo-Victorian investment going into London’s transport system to underpin the delivery of new homes.”
Tom Copley, a Labour member of the London Assembly, said London needed 60,000 new homes a year.
“This draft strategy sets out the scale of the problem, but its lack of ambition commits us to a future of unaffordable housing, rogue practices in private rented housing, and a continuing chronic shortage of housing that threatens to undermine the competiveness of our great city,” he said.