Boris Johnson has written to all councils in the capital proposing a borough-specific “indicative target” for the number of affordable homes to be built over the next three years. The move marks the first stage to abolishing the current London-wide target of 50% introduced by former Mayor Ken Livingstone.
Mayor Johnson has previously indicated a preference for borough-by-borough negotiations in his attempts to deliver 50,000 affordable homes instead of a ‘one size fits all’ approach. However some critics have voiced concern that this approach will lead to fewer affordable homes being built.
In a statement issued by City Hall today Mr Johnson said “the current policy of imposing an inflexible London wide target clearly does not work and in these exceptionally tough times it is imperative that we make the right investments now to provide the homes that Londoners need.”
Addressing concerns that the scrapping of the current 50% target would lead to a reduction of new affordable homes, the Mayor’s Director of Housing Richard Blakeway said: “In a challenging housing market, the 50 per cent target will simply deter development slowing down delivery of all new housing across the board. Historically under the aspirational target only an average 34% of new homes built were affordable, far less than the 50 per cent envisaged.”
Mr Livingstone has today defended his record of securing affordable homes, commenting: “according to the Greater London Authority’s own figures more homes and more affordable homes were being been built after the introduction of the policy than before. More than 33,000 new homes were built in London last year – the largest annual figure since 1977. A total of 11,980 affordable homes were also provided – an increase of more than 70 per cent since 2000.”
The former Mayor also claimed that Mayor Johnson’s letters to borough chiefs “have no legal force and are not a formal planning requirement” and warned that “borough leaders who don’t want to build new affordable homes will be able to put it in the bin”.
Livingstone’s warning has been echoed by Labour’s deputy leader on the London Assembly, John Biggs who said “there is a real risk that this move will simply let boroughs off the hook. How it will reduce the housing waiting list problem is anybody’s guess”
Councils will have an opportunity to comment on the Mayor’s suggested targets before the final numbers are agreed early next year.
According to figures obtained by Darren Johnson Green Party AM Darren Johnson, more than one in five households in London may be unable to afford to adequately heat their homes this winter.
Figures provided to Johnson by GLA officials show that 760,000 London households are estimated to be in fuel poverty.
Johnson has called on the Mayor “to work with the energy companies to offer free insulation to every household that needs it.”