Housing Committee raise ‘doubts’ over Sadiq Khan’s housing plans

London Assembly Housing Committee has expressed concern over the draft housing strategy.

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In particular, the concerns relate to whether the mayor has the “ability to deliver what was promised to Londoners”.

The London Assembly Housing Committee said: “The London Assembly Housing Committee welcomes a number of proposals in the draft Housing Strategy which take on board our recommendations for engaging small builders, supporting offsite manufactured housing, investing in housing for older and disabled Londoners and more.

“Unfortunately, we have doubts about the mayor’s ability to deliver what was promised to Londoners.

“He estimates we need 43,000 affordable homes a year, yet his grants will part fund fewer than 20,000 affordable homes annually.

“The committee is also concerned that most of the homes this draft Housing strategy does deliver will not be ‘genuinely affordable,’ which is what the mayor promised.

“We urge the mayor to work closely with the boroughs to deliver homes that Londoners need and deserve.”

In the Draft London Plan, The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said he was ready to ‘rip up’ planning rules in challenging housebuilders to develop affordable housing sites at higher densities to substantially increase capacity in the capital.

Khan said outdated construction constraints and rigid density guidelines have had their day.

Doing so, he slammed previous policy as complicated in setting ‘meaningless’ maximum rules for the number of homes on developments, in favour of boosting the number of well-designed homes sites can deliver.

The capital’s opposition Tories attacked the plan as a ‘declaration of war’ on the outer boroughs  which faced a future as ‘browner, overcrowded and harder to get around’.

The mayor also set out how he will ask homebuilders to maximise the use of valuable land in the city – and that means developing sites with more homes on them than existing developments nearby that would have had to follow previous guidelines.

Khan believes increased numbers of homes should be built on sites near town centres or good public transport, reducing the need for car parking spaces within developments.

The mayor’s plan states proposed development on sites that do not clearly maximise housing density should be refused.

Instead, the future has councils working with developers and housing associations taking a case-by-case approach to each site to determine its capacity based on surrounding infrastructure.

The new policy also emphasises the importance of good design and will be applicable to buildings of all types, including low-rise, medium and high-rise.

This approach is backed by a far stronger policy on housing standards, including minimum space standards, which sets out how a home should be designed.

Khan is clear that, while he is encouraging homebuilders to make best use of land in the capital, he expects councils to refuse any applications that come forward with homes that do not meet his new standards.

The draft also includes the mayor’s key strategic housing commitment for 50% of all new homes built to be genuinely affordable – to be achieved through planning, investment and building on public land.

It strengthens his new approach offering private developers a fast-track route to planning permission if they reach a minimum of 35% affordable.

New ambitious targets have been set for councils across the capital, as part of an overall London Plan figure of 65,000 homes a year – roughly double the current rate of homebuilding.

For the first time, targets in the plan show how capacity can also be reached on small sites, which must now make a significant contribution to housing supply.

Khan believes there is capacity for 24,500 homes a year on London’s small sites – typically those between one and 25 homes – and asks boroughs to approve applications for small developments unless they do not meet his strict design standards.

It forms part of the mayoral commitment to stimulate growth for small and medium-sized builders in the capital, seen as having had an over-reliance on large developers building the majority of homes.

There is provision to use planning powers to their fullest extent to ensure high fire safety standards.

Khan said: “With London’s population expected to increase by 70,000 every year, reaching 10.8 million in 2041, it’s vital we properly plan for growth with new affordable homes in every area of the capital.

“I am using all of the powers at my disposal in my first draft London Plan to tackle the housing crisis head on – removing ineffective constraints on homebuilders so that we can make the most of precious land in the capital to build more homes in areas with the best transport links.”

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