London Mayor Sadiq Khan has pledged to spend £250m buying land which will then be sold to developers to build “new and affordable homes” on. Money made from selling the land will be used to buy additional holdings, creating a self-replenishing fund.
The initiative builds on the approach taken at the derelict Webbs Industrial Estate which was bought by former Mayor Boris Johnson and which Mr Khan has sold to developers on the condition that all 330 homes built on the site are affordable.
The pledge is included in a new draft Housing Strategy for London published for consultation today. Conservatives at City Hall have questioned where the cash will come from.
Other proposals in the strategy include a commitment to build 90,000 new affordable homes by 2021 – the year after Mr Khan faces re-election – and supporting community builders.
Mr Khan is also promising to work with landlords and tenants to develop a new rental model which provides increased security for tenants and protects “the legitimate rights of landlords”.
Publishing his draft strategy, the Mayor said: “From £250 million to kick-start my plans to secure more land for new and affordable homes, to a new model and fairer deal for millions of private renters, I want to help all Londoners facing the housing crisis.
“This launch marks the start of a three-month consultation – I want as many Londoners as possible to let me know their views on how we can improve housing in London.“
Andrew Boff, the Conservative’s housing spokesperson on the London Assembly, branded the strategy “another empty vessel.”
He said: “Despite bold promises on housing, the Mayor has again failed to set any targets outside those imposed by central Government. He has also failed to explain in any detail where he will obtain £250m to buy up new land.”
Green party AM Sian Berry welcomed the mayor’s landing purchase initiative but said “what he achieves is what he will be judged on at the end of four years, he has to get this right.
“Londoners cannot be let down by two successive Mayor’s on housing.”
Ms Berry also expressed regret that “the Mayor’s commitments to truly affordable rents have been watered down.”
She added: “The definition of affordable rent is not restricted to the Mayor’s new London Living Rent leaving developers free to argue for the Government’s definition which is up to 80 per cent of market rates.
“He has also stepped back from asking for the power to put in wider controls on rent rises. He should be asking for at least for the power to put modest controls on rises in rents.”