Sadiq Khan has been accused of taking credit for his predecessor’s work after it emerged that at least some of the 20,000 new homes he announced earlier this month were part of projects initiated by former mayor Boris Johnson.
On April 6th City Hall issued a press release hailing a “landmark deal” with L&Q which it claimed would deliver “20,000 new homes across the capital”.
Since coming to office last year, Mr Khan has repeatedly criticised Mr Johnson’s record on building the new homes needed to meet the needs of London’s growing population, contrasting this claimed failure with his own commitment to make “tackling London’s housing crisis” his “number-one priority”.
In the press release announcing the L&Q deal, the Mayor returned to this point, saying: “For far too long, London has not been building enough homes. This has meant that Londoners born and raised in our great capital have struggled to rent and stood little or no chance of owning a home in their own city.”
Mr Khan also claimed the partnership demonstrated “real progress on the long road towards tackling London’s housing crisis.”
Despite being keen to trumpet the headline 20,000 figure, City Hall failed to say in its press release where the new homes would be built.
However in the weeks following the announcement sources have suggested that “many” of the so-called “new” homes were accounted for by previously announced projects, including the planned redevelopment at Barking Riverside which was initiated by Mr Johnson.
Mayor Khan’s office has now confirmed that “some of those homes would be built on sites such as Barking Riverside.”
A spokesman declined to name any other specific sites but said: “City Hall will be working closely with L&Q as it identifies and secures sites across London to build more new and genuinely affordable homes to buy and rent.”
London Assembly Members have criticised Mr Khan for not being clearer that many of the homes built under the L&Q partnership would be part of pre-announced projects.
Gareth Bacon, leader of the Conservative group, said: “New homes being built in London is good news, but the Barking Riverside development was developed by Boris Johnson’s administration.
“It is not good enough for the Mayor to simply claim credit for his predecessor’s work, Londoners expect him to develop his own proposals that add to things that were already in train before he arrived in office.”
Liberal Democrat Caroline Pidgeon commented: “Only recently the Mayor’s press machine was boasting specifically about 20,000 new starts, when the reality is that some of these new homes were already planned for and set to be delivered.
“Double counting is one of the oldest political tricks in the book. Such dubious claims hardly fit well with a Mayor who promised the most transparent administration London has ever seen.”