Thursday, 02 October 2014

Boris Johnson’s housing plan will not impose a tenure mix on targets

Mayor will not insist on social homes

London councils will not have to deliver new social housing to meet the affordable housing targets they are negotiating with mayor Boris Johnson, a key aide has said.

Speaking to Inside Housing before Mr Johnson publishes his housing strategy next week, housing advisor Richard Blakeway said City Hall would not tell individual boroughs how many of the affordable homes they deliver should be for social rent.

Currently the capital’s main planning document, the London Plan, calls for 50 per cent of all new homes to be affordable, and for 70 per cent of affordable homes to be social housing.

Intermediate tenures such as shared ownership make up the remaining 30 per cent.

The mayor wants to replace the 50 per cent target with numerical targets for each borough, currently being negotiated. But Mr Blakeway said City Hall would not impose any tenure mix on those targets.

‘We’ve been very clear that we are decoupling the intermediate/social split from the negotiation over the affordable targets. It is not part of the debate at the moment,’ he said.

Asked whether a borough could meet its target solely with shared ownership homes, he said: ‘I would be surprised if a borough did that.

Mr Blakeway said the mayor’s housing strategy would be the only document that the new Homes and Com­munities Agency London housing board, which controls the city’s affordable housing budget, needed to have regard to.

It would include the first steps programme, promised in Mr Johnson’s election manifesto, which is aimed at providing affordable housing for people who earn too much to qualify for current shared ownership schemes.

Mr Blakeway confirmed that couples with a combined income of up to £72,000 would be eligible. He added that he wanted to encourage ‘more social mobility’ within affordable housing.

City Hall estimated there were 63,000 social tenants in London able to move into low-cost homeownership.

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