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London Mayor should set 'hard house building targets' for boroughs, says taskforce

Out-Law News | 05 Mar 2014 | 2:13 pm | 1 min. read

The Mayor of London should set house building targets for the capital's boroughs and should take over the determination of residential planning applications where boroughs fail to meet those targets, a report by London First's Housing Taskforce has recommended. 

The taskforce yesterday published a report (38-page / 1.71MB PDF) setting out a list of recommendations to solve London's housing crisis.  The report recommended that the existing house building monitoring targets set out in the London Plan should be turned into "hard delivery targets" which would be used to monitor borough performance over a set period of time.

If a borough fails to meet its target during the set period, the Mayor should intervene to determine all housing applications in the borough above a low threshold for a set period, it suggested.

The report also said that affordable housing negotiations are often complex and can lead to "significant delay" to developers gaining permission and starting construction. It recommended that boroughs should be encouraged to be more flexible about allowing off-site affordable housing near the development site and that they should pass any payments made in lieu of affordable housing to the Greater London Authority if they have not spent them after two years.

Other recommendations set out in the report included a reduction in the number of pre-construction conditions attached to planning permissions and the use by boroughs of compulsory purchase powers over land subject to planning permissions which remain unimplemented after a set period.

The report also suggested improved transport connections to support the creation of new communities at Brimsdown in north east London and Chessington in south west London. London First chief executive Baroness Jo Valentine said in a statement that the Mayor has the "political authority and the powers at his finger-tips to build new suburbs".

Taskforce chairman Robert Bright said that "radical change" is needed. “We need political will and real leadership on this, because marginal change will not deliver the step change in house building that London needs,” he said. "This is hampering the capital’s economic and physical growth and will continue to do so unless the real obstacles to getting more homes built are tackled.”