City Hall has played down reports that Mayor Boris Johnson is planning to overrule local councils and impose a 25% cap on the number of affordable homes built in the capital.
On Friday Property Week magazine claimed that Mr Johnson was planning to update his statutory planning framework, known as the London Plan, to introduce “fixed targets of around 25% for affordable homes on major sites”.
Soon after coming to office in 2008 the Mayor dropped a target of 50% of affordable homes introduced by predecessor Ken Livingstone on the grounds that the target had seldom been met.
A number of London councils also have targets far higher than the reported 25% but these too are often missed as developers argue that requiring more affordable properties will make a given development financially unviable.
Responding to the Property Week report, Labour’s housing spokesperson on the London Assembly, Tom Copley AM accused Mr Johnson of “trying to tie the hands of a future Mayor by setting a scandalously low target for affordable housing on major development sites.”
He added: “If true, not only would it stack the deck in developers favour, it would let them off the hook from their duty to provide the optimum number of affordable homes.”
“Boris Johnson is possibly the only person in the capital who thinks that it’s acceptable for three-quarters of new homes to be unaffordable. We should be tougher in our scrutiny of viability assessments and pushing to get as many affordable homes as possible. Instead the Mayor seems set on giving developers a free pass in return for a token number of affordable homes.”
According to Property Week the Mayor’s office “declined to comment” when contacted by them.
However on Friday afternoon City Hall told MayorWatch that Mr Johnson was not seeking to impose a central cap and that the new draft Supplementary Planning Guidance instead “suggests boroughs could explore introducing area-based targets in Housing Zones and Opportunity Areas where this would provide additional certainty and incentivise developers to increase affordable housing offers.”
A spokesperson for the Mayor commented: “History shows that setting unrealistic targets at City Hall would be unaffordable for developers and burdensome for boroughs, leading to fewer homes being built.
“Instead of arbitrary thresholds, the Mayor is determined to make sure that schemes include as much affordable housing as viable to ensure that new homes get built as quickly as possible, and help more Londoners get onto the property ladder.”