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Mayor’s London housing strategy removes ‘ineffective’ planning rules and doubles building targets

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  • 30/11/2017
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Mayor’s London housing strategy removes ‘ineffective’ planning rules and doubles building targets
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is to remove existing planning rules and has set a new range of targets as a part of his strategy to meet the capital’s chronic housing supply shortage.

The mayor argued that his predecessor’s policies proved “complicated and set meaningless maximum rules for the number of homes on development”. The new London Plan will create policies “in favour of boosting the number of well-designed homes [that] sites can deliver.”

Ambitious targets have been set for councils across London, with the overall London Plan figure for homebuilding increasing to 65,000 homes a year.

With the London Plan setting out development strategy until 2029, a total of 650,000 homes would be built over the period – roughly doubling the current delivery rate.

A third of the new housing planned would be built on small sites – which the mayor believes has enough capacity to deliver 24,500 homes a year.

The mayor said that he wants boroughs to approve applications for small developments, unless the development applications do not meet his design standards.

London’s 13 outer suburbs are also expected to handle some 250,000 new and affordable homes over the period.

“The fact that the Mayor is ripping up existing planning rules to get more affordable homes built sends a strong message that he is prioritising this as a key strategic issue for London,” said Kim Vernau, chief executive officer of BLP Insurance.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders said: “Making better use of the many existing small sites that are scattered over the capital is essential if we are to build the number of new homes Londoners need. The London Plan’s moves to favour appropriate residential development on small sites is therefore a welcome initiative.”

“It will also boost and strengthen the capacity of small and medium-sized house builders to build more new homes,” he added.

 

Density

In addition to encouraging small site construction, the mayor has also announced the removal of density limits to boost the number of homes built near town centres and transport hubs.

Proposed developments which do not clearly maximise housing density would be refused.

Councils would instead work with developers and housing associations to take a case-by-case approach to each site so to determine its capacity based on surrounding infrastructure.

“I am using all of the powers at my disposal in my first draft London Plan to tackle the housing crisis head on – removing ineffective constraints on homebuilders so that we can make the most of precious land in the capital to build more homes in areas with the best transport links,” said Khan.

However, the move may prove controversial, as under the relaxed rules, planners would no longer reject development applications to preserve the character of areas within 800 meters of transport hubs or town centres.

David Montague, chief executive of L&Q, said: “The London Plan that Sadiq Khan launched today takes an imaginative approach to tackling the housing crisis. This strategic plan for London will ensure that neighbourhoods across the capital continue to flourish, with the right balance of new housing and much needed transport infrastructure.”

 

Affordability

The draft plan also includes the commitment for 50% all new homes built to be affordable – meaning rent controls limiting prices to no more than 80% of local market rent, with the inclusion of service charges where applicable.

As a part of the commitment to affordable homes, the plan would offer private developers a fast-track route to planning permission if they reach a minimum of 35% affordable homes within their development.

Lewisham mayor Sir Steve Bullock, London Councils’ Executive member for housing, said: “The sheer scale of the housing crisis in London is unparalleled. The Mayor’s work to set out a vision for London’s development and deliver it with London boroughs and other key partners such as TfL and the construction industry demonstrates his understanding of how only sustained and co-ordinated efforts across different sectors can hope to fix the capital’s broken housing market.”

Khan added: “My London Plan sets out how we are planning for the challenges our great city faces, but crucially focuses on my vision of a London that welcomes growth, celebrates its diversity and ensures every Londoner gets the opportunity to fulfil their potential.”

Once adopted, the London Plan becomes part of the statutory framework for London planning authorities.

The draft London Plan will be published on 1 December for consultation, which will run until 2 March 2018.

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