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Johnson promises 42,000 homes a year for London

Housing in London

Boris Johnson has revealed plans for ten new housing zones and three garden suburbs for London today.

The London mayor, publishing the revised Draft London Housing Strategy, has promised up to 42,000 new homes per year in the capital in a bid to “turbocharge” housebuilding to levels not seen since the 1930s. At least 17,000 should be affordable, with 5,000 purpose-built for long-term market rent.
The strategy, broken into 60 policy pledges, is intended to meet the demands of a growing population which is forecast to pass its 1939 peak of 8.6 million by 2016.
In his foreword for the strategy, Johnson says: “Rising to our housing challenge is an economic as well as a social imperative. We need to help find every way possible for hard working Londoners to access decent low cost affordable housing at a time when for many it appears all that is on offer is ever more unaffordable.”
The strategy as a whole is built around four key aims:
better supporting working Londoners and helping more of them into home ownership
improving the private rented sector and promoting new purpose-built and well managed private rented housing
pushing for a new, long-term financial settlement for London government to drive housing delivery
bringing forward land for development and accelerating the pace of housing delivery through housing zones and the London Housing Bank. 

Housing zones to accelerate housebuilding

The ten housing zones will accelerate housebuilding through a mixture of funding packages, planning incentives and new to design, construction and ownership, some of which may require legislative changes. 
Approaches might include, for example, tax incentives, lighter touch planning, “effective land assembly”, custom build, modular housing and community housebuilding projects, as well as the use of compulsory purchase powers.

Twenty-first garden suburbs

Garden suburbs have been earmarked for brownfield land at Barking Riverside, Beam Park in Dagenham and at Thamesmead, with more potentially to follow. Development has already begun at Barking.
The strategy cites Hampstead as its example of a successful garden suburb – a place where high quality housing, open space and green infrastructure create very desirable places to live.

Releasing land in public ownership

A cornerstone of the housing strategy is the availability of land. According to the draft strategy document, some 40 per cent of brownfield land suitable for development is in the ownership of the public sector, including both central and local government.
Johnson has promised to put in place mechanisms to speed up the disposal of public sector land, in order to enable swifter housing development including, for example, the London Development Panel and a database detailing all of the Greater London Authority’s land assets.
In addition, the draft strategy includes policies for creating affordable private sector housing aimed at younger people and accessible homes close to amenities for older people.
Said Johnson: “My housing strategy sets out measures to tackle the colossal pressure on London’s property market and address the chronic 30 year failure to build enough homes in our city.
“The good news is we have capacity for 42,000 more homes a year in London alone, plus a multitude of prime opportunity areas and programmes to trigger development. For me there is no single more important issue now than boosting supply.”

London housing: in numbers

6.8 million: London population in 1986
8.4m: London population in 2013
8.6m: London’s peak population in 1939 – set to be surpassed in 2016
3.4m: number of households in London
4.2m: anticipated number of households by 2040 – a growth of 40,000 per year
20-25,000: number of new homes built in London annually over the last 30 years
42,000: number of new homes needed in London annually to meet housing requirements of growing population
17,000: affordable homes within the mix