Mayor’s ‘unrealistic’ housing targets will encourage bad development

Between 2001 and 2017, thirteen of the 32 London boroughs lost more social rented housing than they built.

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The Mayor of London’s “unrealistic” target for 60,000 new homes a year in London hands developers with unsuitable proposals a stick with which to beat local planners, say London Tenants Federation (LTF).

In an article published today (17th April) by the group, LTF highlight that the new London Plan’s annual housing target is more than double what London boroughs have managed to achieve, on average, since 2005.

Broken down, the Mayor proposes a ten-year target, equating to 64,935 new home per year, with the report further highlighting that the London-wide annual average has been just 30,000, with only 13% of those being homes for social rent.

On this policy, the group argues this high target will place pressure on the boroughs to approve residential developments regardless of their effect on local quality of life, and regardless of whether they meet evidenced local housing need.

78% of all unmet need for new housing in London is for social rented homes, with the London Tenants Federation proposing that the Mayor needs to address this with a target for 60% of new homes built under the next London Plan to be for social rent.

In reports, the Federation state that the closest London has come to achieving the housing target in the new London Plan was in 2016/17 when 45,505 new homes were built as a response to changes to the rules around converting offices into residential.

Thereafter, according to the Centre for London, net additional dwellings in 2017/18 fell to below half the level stipulated by the draft new London Plan and many boroughs saw declines above 50%.

“Living as we do on public land, residents on social housing estates put up with some of the worst new developments,” says Pat Turnbull, LTF Regional Representative.

“We are robbed of our sunlight, green spaces, play areas, youth clubs, community centres and – in too many cases – our homes themselves”, she added.

Ron Hollis, a tenant in Lambeth said that there is a fear that the Mayor’s target will result in missed opportunities to develop the kind of homes that London needs.

“There is only so much available land and the more of it that is wasted on luxury flats, the less there will be available for desperately needed social housing.

“The Mayor’s target for 50% of new homes to be affordable leaves it to the discretion of the boroughs to decide if they want most of those homes to be for social rent or for tenures which are not affordable for those on housing waiting lists, such as shared ownership.

“Unfortunately, the boroughs’ track record on demanding social rent is mixed and generally poor”, he added.

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