More than 10,000 new homes are to be built on land owned by Transport for London after the mayor’s transport agency announced that around 300 acres of land is to be released to developers.
Almost 70% of the land being released is in Zones 1 and 2 and will provide a mix of new homes, offices and retail units to help meet the ever-growing demand for residential and commercial property in the capital.
Graeme Craig, TfL’s Director of Commercial Development, says all proceeds from the projects “will be reinvested into the transport network, helping us to bear down on fares and continue to support London’s economic growth and booming population.”
TfL has also promised to work with City Hall, London’s boroughs and developers to identity further viable sites among its total property portfolio of 5,700 acres, although it’s cautioned that much of this land is needed for operational purposes and “is not simple to develop”.
Today’s announcement brings together Boris Johnson’s pledge to use land held by City Hall and its agencies to tackle London’s housing crisis and TfL’s strategy to boost the amount of commercial revenue it raises to help offset reductions in its government grants.
Mayor Johnson said the land being released “will build on the great efforts we’ve already made at City Hall to ensure brownfield land that has laid empty for years is put to productive use in providing much-needed housing for Londoners.”
He added: “It’s important that all key agencies work together to accelerate the rate of housebuilding across the Capital and redevelop land and assets wherever possible to deliver more homes.”
Mayor Johnson, who chairs TfL, has previously been criticised for failing to ensure similar disposals by the capital’s fire and police services were earmarked for residential development and today one London Assembly member accused him of waiting until the “eleventh hour” of his term before taking action to deliver more homes.
Caroline Pidgeon, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the Assembly and a candidate in next year’s mayoral election, commented: “TfL are doing the right thing in releasing some surplus land for housing, although it is vital that many of the homes are genuinely affordable. Sadly this is far from clear at the moment.
“And while welcoming these modest steps being taken forward by TfL big questions remain over the wasted opportunities for further housing that the Mayor has squandered following the disposal of huge amounts of land and buildings owned by the fire service and especially the Metropolitan Police Service.”
Labour’s London Assembly Housing Spokesperson, Tom Copley AM, said: “With Londoners facing a mammoth housing crisis, the need for new homes has never been greater. To keep up with demand the capital needs to build at least 49,000 new homes every year so any action to open up TfL land for housing is welcome. What is important however is that TfL understands the need is for affordable, family home, not just yet more luxury flats which are only affordable to the super-rich.
“Whilst we need to develop a new income stream for TfL to keep fares down, we also need that to be balanced by a focus on meeting the housing needs of ordinary Londoners not solely chasing the highest price, which risks costing the capital more in the long run. This will be a challenging balancing act but it is vital if we are to get the most benefit possible from TfL’s land reserves.”
Greens on the Assembly have called on the Mayor and TfL to ensure the homes resulting from this initiative support new tenure types and smaller developers.
Darren Johnson AM commented: “TfL should embrace community-led and co-operative models to provide permanently affordable homes for Londoners, with a reasonable return to put back into public transport.
“TfL’s Director of Commercial Development confirmed they were exploring these options last week, so I hope they give them serious consideration.
“I’d also like to see TfL trial rent controls for their commercial properties, helping small businesses to weather the storms of gentrification.”