Tuesday, 17 January 2017

London Housing Commission releases initial findings

A committee seeking solutions to London’s housing shortage has identified the planning system, land shortages, investment and house builders as the four elements of the crisis.

The London Housing Commission, established by think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research and led by former head of the civil service Lord Bob Kerslake, will publish its recommendations for solving the capital’s housing crisis in the spring.

It released a preliminary report at the end of December which was intended to “focus on the key areas holding back housing delivery in the capital”.

The report said these issues “cut across the four main elements of housebuilding: land, planning consent, investment, and house builders”.

On land, it said London needs “a minimum of half a million homes over the next decade”, but noted that Boris Johnson’s London Plan has identified sites for only 420,000. It said the density of housing could be increased, particularly in outer boroughs.

It also warned that under-resourced council planning departments were falling well short of the estimated 4,250 planning approvals needed per month and some decisions were not strong enough to guarantee development.

The report warned that private investment in affordable housing, through Section 106 payments, would not be enough on its own to meet the level of affordable housing required in the capital.

“Private investment on its own will not be enough – public grants, loans and guarantees are critical to underpinning private and social housebuilding,” the report said.

It said house builders could deliver more if the availability and cost of land were improved, particularly for smaller builders.

It also warned cuts to social rents would impact the ability of housing associations, which built a third of London’s homes last year, to build.

The London Housing Commission aims to provide a series of recommendations to the victor of May’s London mayoral election.

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