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27/01/2016

Register of public land in London published

Words: Laura Edgar

The London Land Commission has published a register of public land in the capital, listing 40,000 sites with the capacity to deliver a minimum of 130,000 homes.

In July last year, the commission appointed Savills to compile the preliminary stages of a ‘Domesday Book’ of brownfield land owned by public bodies in London.

Available as an interactive map, the register details the locations of land owned by the Mayor of London, government departments, London boroughs, Transport for London and the NHS. It also details the current use of each site, such as residential or transport.

City Hall has identified there could be a minimum of 130,000 homes built in London on public sites. It plans to analyse the data to “further unlock and accelerate the release of surplus land for much-needed housing”.

The commission is, it said, going to work with land owners on the register to ascertain availability and “encourage the marketing of public land to obtain the best possible housing development for Londoners, rather than selling with no obligations”.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who chairs the commission alongside housing minister Brandon Lewis, said the need for more homes in London is “urgent”.

“Land owned by public bodies has lain dormant or [has been] sold off with no benefit to the capital. That simply must not be allowed to happen and we must build on the work done at City Hall in releasing land for development.”

The commission, Johnson continued, will be “absolutely vital” in coordinating public bodies to ensure “we squeeze every drop of developable land possible to build the homes we need for hard-working Londoners”.

The register can be viewed here


Developer outlines issues limiting the delivery of homes in London

Charlie Hustler, land director at Essential Living, a developer and operator of homes for long-term rent, said politicians’ “dogged insistence” that the green belt “remains sacrosanct” has fuelled “market dysfunctions by ensuring such land remains cheap since nothing can be built on it”.

Hustle said it seems like few campaigners are able to differentiate between greenfield land and green belt land.

“When the housing crisis isn’t being unfairly blamed on foreign investors or immigration, we are told there is a “shortage” of land - there isn’t,” he said.

There are though, a number of solutions at our disposal for changing the game, according to Hustler.

“We firstly need to be more upfront in confronting the inevitable barriers we face, such as nimbyism. It is not without irony that the areas most vociferously opposing development are those best placed to cater for it and with the most unaffordable homes. But the onus must be on us as developers to engage locally and make a compelling case.

“Yet the reality is that the response from local authorities is inconsistent at best: another major barrier.”

Image credit | iStock

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