Goldsmith’s efforts to free up London housebuilding

9 December 2015, Blog

This week has seen the conservative mayoral candidate, Zac Goldsmith, pledge to unlock ‘London’s house-building logjam’.

It is estimated that less than 10% of residential developments that have been awarded planning consent are currently in the construction stage.  Goldsmith claims that this is primarily due to land-banking. This is where developers ‘sit on land’ until its value rises – delaying construction in order to benefit from higher profits further down the line. 

Goldsmith proposes addressing the issue of land-banking by reducing the grace period before a housing development must start construction from three years to two. He would also introduce a panel to assess why certain schemes have been stalled in addition to publishing a list of developments that are being ‘held up’.

There are a number of other measures which could increase the rate of housebuilding in London post-approval stage.  Continued government cuts to the budgets of London Borough Councils have resulted in many planning departments being overstretched. This in turn has resulted in many willing developers becoming frustrated with delays in the issuing of planning conditions.  In some cases, developers are waiting up to a year before being able to start construction because of this administrative delay. 

The London housing crisis looks set to remain the key topic of debate in the run up to the mayoral election.  

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