Boris Johnson was in central London this morning to launch a wide ranging and bold housing plan he says will deliver more affordable housing and improve standards for thousands of Londoners.
The Housing Strategy is Johnson’s biggest housing policy announcement since taking office in May and follows his decision to scrap a London-wide target of 50% of all new homes to be affordable in favour of individually negotiated targets for each of the capital’s boroughs.
Speaking earlier today the Mayor outlined an ambitious plan to invest more than £5bn on a range of schemes including steps to help more families into shared ownership and to buy properties in private developments and make them available for social housing.
A core objective of the strategy is to reduce pressure on council waiting lists, which currently stand at more than 330,000, by helping easily identifiable groups to find other routes to affordable homes.
Delivery of the new strategy will be overseen by the Homes and Communities Agency London Board which is chaired by the Mayor. The board will look across London for examples of ‘best practice’ and effective initiatives at borough level and promote successful schemes.
Mayor Johnson used this morning’s speech to repeat past calls for a return a better standard of affordable homes and said developers should stop building “homes for hobbits”. City Hall officials say Johnson plans to bring about a revolution in the way homes are thought about and enable families to stay in their homes, moving between renting and owning as circumstances allowed.
The administration is also talking up the creation of a legacy of decent homes which last well into the future and are able to serve the needs of more than a single generation of Londoners.
However it’s understood that despite calls from some on the London Assembly, City Hall will not be publishing regular updates on borough compliance with their affordable housing targets and this data will only be available on a yearly basis. Johnson dismissed fears that some councils opposed the construction of more affordable homes in their areas and said all boroughs understood their obligations in delivering on the needs and ambitions of local people.
Johnson said the plans announced today “aim to put London on a strong footing for the eventual upturn in the housing market. By enabling ordinary Londoners to move from being subsidisers to being investors in new homes, we will provide timely support to a struggling development sector and can expect a return on our investment in years to come.”
Green Party Assembly Member Jenny Jones has claimed that the Mayor’s policies will deliver 5,000 fewer social rented over the next three years.
Jones accused the Mayor of “shifting the focus away from social rented housing and onto homes for middle income earners” and said he was “cutting support for those in greatest need.”
In a statement issued ahead of Mayor Johnson’s speech, LibDem Assembly Leader Mike Tuffrey said: “Not only should the Mayor publish ‘real -time’ data on completion so that we can all see which London boroughs are not serious, but he should not be afraid to use his planning powers to ensure that developments go ahead with enough affordable housing.”
“Fine words won’t build Londoners the homes they need. Boris Johnson will need to act decisively or his election pledges will be proved worthless.”