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Policymakers urged to exploit London councils’ house building potential


The government, the Mayor of London and the GLA have been urged to help local authorities boost housing supply in the capital.

According to the Centre for London think tank, council-led house building has declined sharply in the last four years, leading to a housing shortfall and a low supply of new affordable homes. However, the body believes the potential for councils to build more is “yet to be realised”.

Indeed, estimates suggest that if all of London’s 32 boroughs were able to deliver at least one-tenth of their London Plan target, through direct delivery or a wholly owned company, about 37,300 homes could be delivered over the next five years.

Centre for London stated that a number of factors are preventing this from happening.

For instance, it said access to finance is limited, due to restrictions on borrowing capacity and the use of Right to Buy receipts.

Furthermore, the body said a lack of political support and legislative and regulatory issues in establishing wholly owned companies is affecting house building rates.

Centre for London has therefore suggested that, while boroughs could work together better to share expertise, other policymakers should also “do more to support and encourage councils to deliver at scale”.

Ministers have been urged to relax the conditions attached to various funding streams and acknowledge the important part that councils can play in delivering more homes.

Meanwhile, the GLA was encouraged to develop the existing Public Practice scheme to give more boroughs access to the development staff they will need as they start building houses again.

In addition, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan was advised to use his funding powers to support the development of sub-regional consortiums or delivery bodies.

For further information on any of the points raised in this article please contact Andrew Murray in our Social Housing Team.

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