Brownspace should be used to ‘house blue light emergency services workers’

Thousands of new homes could be built on derelict and underdeveloped land within the capital’s green belt in order to house London’s emergency workers, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has said.

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A new report has outlined how the capital can house it’s emergency service personnel.

LCCI found a majority, 54%, of emergency service workers – police, fire & paramedics –  now live outside the capital they serve principally due to the cost of housing.

LCCI’s new report, Brown for Blue, urges mayor Sadiq Khan to recognise a specific need for affordable housing for blue light emergency services workers – and to utilise disused green belt land to house them.

Looking towards the review of the London Plan, LCCI commissioned an extensive mapping of brownspace throughout those parts of London within the Metropolitan green belt and identified derelict and underdeveloped land equivalent to 500 football pitches with the potential for around 20,000 homes.

Chief executive of LCCI, Colin Stanbridge, said: “It is a misconception that all green belt is lush parkland.

“Our research found hundreds of hectares of brownspace which is poor quality or disused space – and makes-up just one percent of the green belt.

“At the same time the majority of our emergency service workers, who are essential to the capital’s functioning, are living outside London.

“We are concerned this could impact London’s resilience in the event of an incident of prolonged duration.

“Our mapping exercise with FIND identified disused land with the potential to build up to 20,000 homes that could help to house the men and women in our dedicated blue light services.

“The mayor has an opportunity in the draft new London Plan review to make a limited intervention, with suitable safeguards, to underpin resilience by homes for frontline police, fire and paramedic staff.”

The FIND mapping exercise identified over 329 hectares of brownspace; and also noted there are 63 golf courses within the green belt, 20 of which are owned by a local authority.

Brown for Blue makes the following recommendations.

  • The London Assembly should consider a one-off evidence session with representatives of frontline police, fire and paramedic emergency services personnel, on the potential impacts that living outside London may have on preparedness to deal with a major incident of prolonged duration
  • The Mayor of London should consider assuming an owner – landlord position for housing stock for London’s blue light emergency services workers
  • A dedicated unit should be established within the mayor’s Homes for Londoners to act as an intermediary to secure, commission or build homes specifically to rent to emergency services workers
  • The Mayor of London should seek to utilise brownspace within the metropolitan green belt in London to support housing for London’s emergency services workers – so they can actually live within the capital they serve
  • The London Land Commission should be tasked with formally identifying all brownspace in Greater London’s metropolitan green belt.

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