London’s Housing Referendum

2 March 2016, Blog

Labour candidate for the London mayoralty Sadiq Khan has called the upcoming election “a referendum on housing” and he’s probably correct. Both he and the Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith have strong housing messages, with Khan pledging to set a target of 50% of all new homes in the capital to be “genuinely affordable”.

Goldsmith, meanwhile, has called for London’s post-war era housing estates to be torn down and “regenerated”, pointing to research by the estate agents Savills (‘Completing London’s Streets’, January 2016) which suggests that as many as 360,000 additional homes could be built on current council estates. He has also pledged a full audit of municipal buildings, including Jobcentres, council offices, fire stations and libraries, to see where development could take place. Potentially, if local councils added extra levels to suitable buildings, Goldsmith’s campaign suggest that 140,000 new homes could be built.

Goldsmith’s suggestions come after the Government has opened a consultation into allowing additional storeys to be built on residential buildings, shops and offices – up to the height of adjoining buildings and in keeping with the area. However, Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation, commenting on the Government’s consultation, said it would “not deliver an enormous amount of new homes” but could encourage “innovation and the more efficient use of space”. She added: “Central London boroughs are unlikely to see much change as the number of listed buildings and conservation areas will prohibit large numbers of proposals coming forward, however, outer London boroughs could see a rise in new residential property.”

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