Mayor of London and chancellor launch £400m housing zone scheme

Out-Law News | 13 Jun 2014 | 5:09 pm | 1 min. read

Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne have launched a new scheme of housing zones to help accelerate residential development on brownfield land.

The scheme proposes to allocate 20 housing zones across London in which planning restrictions will be removed using powers granted to the mayor to issue Mayoral Development Orders. The Greater London Authority (GLA) and central government will each provide £200m in loans to finance the cleaning up of sites and delivery of infrastructure for the 20 chosen housing zones in order to allow rapid development.

Under the scheme, local authorities are to identify brownfield sites that they consider suitable for the delivery of a minimum of 1,000 homes and submit bids to the mayor for housing zone designation. Successful applicants will partner with housebuilders to deliver homes quickly once planning restrictions have been removed.

"These new £400m housing zones will turbo boost housing supply across the capital", said Johnson in a statement. "This major regeneration will transform communities and provide up to 50,000 much needed homes."

The mayor has issued a prospectus (34-page / 1.18 MB PDF) for local authorities in London considering making a bid.  The prospectus says that bids delivering low and intermediate cost housing will receive priority in the bidding process and that, for a successful bid, "development will need to be already underway or ready to start and be able to be rapidly increased or accelerated".

The prospectus also explains that housing zones will not be restricted to the opportunity areas earmarked for large-scale development in the London Plan.

"Given the nature of opportunity areas, it is the GLA's expectation that they will contain the most suitable areas for housing zone designation, and it is probable that most of the housing zones will be in them", reads the prospectus.  "However, there may be other locations that would be good candidates and if a viable bid were made and the criteria ... were able to be satisfied, then the mayor would consider designating a Housing Zone in a location outside an opportunity area."

Five "front-runners" for housing zone designation are given as examples in the prospectus.  These are Southall in the London borough of Ealing; Meridian Water in Enfield; Tottenham Hale in Haringey; Poplar Riverside in Tower Hamlets; and the Winstanley and York Road Estates in Wandsworth.

The deadline for the submission of bids is 30 September 2014.

A further ten housing zones will be allocated outside London, with Osborne pledging another £200m of loans from central government to finance their clean-up and infrastructure.

A prospectus inviting bids from local authorities outside London is expected to be published later in 2014.