Monday, 16 January 2017

Report calls for 'housing city deal' for London

The Treasury must hand over borrowing powers and tax control to London if the capital is to address its mounting need for new housing.

This is the recommendation from a report published today by the London Housing Commission – a group established by thinktank IPPR to investigate solutions to London’s housing crisis.

Its recommendations, published this morning, include lifting control on boroughs’ borrowing powers and letting City Hall retain a “substantial” chunk of the capital’s stamp duty receipts.

The Treasury has not yet commented on whether it would support the proposals.

The London Housing Commission was established to provide a set of recommendations for the new mayor ahead of May’s elections.

Chaired by former head of the civil service Lord Bob Kerslake, it sets out a wide ranging list of powers which should be devolved in a ‘housing city deal’ for London.

In return, City Hall and boroughs would guarantee to double output to deliver 50,000 new homes in London by 2020.

The report said London should be exempt from the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and instead the London Plan should be given priority.

City Hall would be given powers to force boroughs to change their Local Plans if they are not identifying enough land for housing.

The commission, which had Mark Clare, the former chief executive of Barratt Homes on its panel, also suggested allowing boroughs to tax developers if agreed housing targets are missed.

It also recommends a number of immediate actions, which include speeding up the release of public land, and City Hall and boroughs directly commissioning homes on these sites “where possible”.

It said the mayor should issue guidance on agreeing affordable housing targets with developers, and commit not to call in schemes where a level of affordable housing had been agreed.

The report also suggested a “deal with housing associations to double their housebuilding in exchange for a pipeline of new sites”.

Boroughs should have the power to order private landlords to bring homes up to a decent standard within 10 years, and ban them from letting if they fail, the report says.  

Lord Kerslake said: “London is facing a housing crisis of unprecedented proportions brought about by a chronic undersupply of new housing. It needs urgently to be building far more houses of all types and tenures.”

UPDATE: At 14.30 on 07.03.2016

Brandon Lewis, housing minister, said: “Housing completions were up 35% in London in 2015 and the capital is receiving £1.45bn through the Affordable Homes Programme. We have also announced we will help deliver at least 90,000 affordable home starts in London by 2021.”

 

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