Critics slam home ownership plans
Opponents of London mayor Boris Johnson have criticized his housing plans for promoting home ownership over social renting.
Rival politicians said this is the wrong approach to take in the face of a housing crisis, but representatives of the house building industry welcomed the strategy.
Mr Johnson unveiled his plans for the capital’s £5 billion affordable housing budget yesterday. He wants to:
- Increase home ownership by making subsidised ownership deals available to middle-income households
- Use public land and money as forward funding to encourage developers to keep building
- Drop the target that 50 per cent of all new homes should be affordable
The strategy will now go before the London Assembly, before being opened up to public consultation in the new year.
Nicky Gavron, chair of the London Assembly planning and housing committee:
‘Of course we should be helping people get on the housing ladder and encourage low-income ownership schemes, but the stark fact is there are over 9,000 low-cost homes lying unsold and empty - the bulk of which are in London.
‘Until the housing market stabilises and there are mortgages available, these homes will stay empty and unsold.
‘At the same time, Londoners are crying out for low-cost homes for rent. The mayor is kicking away the first rung of the ladder for the thousands of Londoners on housing waiting lists.’
Jamie Carswell, executive member for housing at London Councils:
‘The mayor’s emphasis on low cost home ownership - which should be praised for its ambition to make owner occupation more affordable - may not be viable in the current financial climate. With more and more Londoners at risk of repossession, what the capital needs is more affordable rented housing. I urge the mayor to support us to deliver it.’
Jenny Jones, London Assembly Green Party member:
‘The mayor’s housing plans have put ideology ahead of the needs of Londoners. By shifting the focus away from social rented housing and onto homes for middle income earners, the mayor is cutting support for those in greatest need.’
Ian Fletcher, director for residential property at the British Property Federation:
‘Some will scoff at the mayor sticking to the target of delivering 50,000 affordable homes in the current economic climate. It will be challenging, but the alternative does not bear contemplating.
‘The new strategy is slimmer, but fitter for the current economic conditions. The mayor has rightly focused on a few key priorities, where the greatest difference can be made. We very much welcome the focus on the important role the private rented sector is playing in housing Londoners, with one in five households in the capital now accommodated in the sector.’
Jon Neale, head of development research at estate agents Knight Frank:
‘The policies announced by the mayor of London represent the first serious attempts by the public sector to kick-start housing development, which has fallen to a worryingly low level given the scale of demand in the capital.
‘There is a clear recognition that policies that may have worked over the past decade are no longer appropriate in the current housing market and the wider economic situation. It is also evident that the mayor has understood the urgent need to keep development happening and retain some capacity within the industry.
‘Allowing public funds to be used to bring land forward for housing is a key step towards achieving this, while moves to buy more market homes for affordable use will help ease some of the crisis in London’s development industry.’