Mayor pledges to support housing market and boost construction sector
The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is to invest £5bn to boost the capital’s ailing housing market over the coming three years.
In plans unveiled this morning, the mayor’s office will work with the new Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to put nearly £2bn a year into building new homes and improving the existing stock.
Johnson said: "The strategy focuses not only on the issues facing the housing market in these difficult times but the historic problems of affordability, homelessness and overcrowding"
He added the pressure of the demand for social housing, which has led to a waiting list of 300,000, could be relieved by incentivising people to invest in intermediate housing through initiatives like “rent to buy”.
Under the plan as it stands, the Greater London Authority (GLA) will undertake the following in the capital:
• Resurrect stalled residential developments
• Acquire unsold market homes for affordable housing
• Bring forward public sector land for new developments
• Subsidise rent and rent-to-buy schemes
• Raise the household income limit to £72,000 for low-cost ownership schemes.
Johnson said: “The strategy focuses not only on the issues facing the housing market in these difficult times but the historic problems of affordability, homelessness and overcrowding… By enabling ordinary Londoners to move from being subsidisers to being investors in new homes, we will provide timely support to a struggling development sector and can expect a return on our investment in years to come.”
The Mayor pledged that the design quality of housing would be improved to ensure that homes would be built to last. “ It is a great waste of money to build houses only to have to knock them down in a few decades time.”
The mayor also criticized the size of the average house in Britain and said it was inadequate compared to larger houses built in Australia, Germany and Ireland. “I think it is a disgrace that the average size of a newly built home in this country is 76sq m compared to 206sq m in Australia. We are not hobbits. We have to stop building for hobbits. We are not substantially smaller than our German, Australian or Irish counterparts.”
The GLA is shortly to publish a London housing design guide, against which all new developments will be measured. The draft policy says that the “architectural, environmental and aesthetic quality of homes will be a key consideration in housing investment and planning decisions”.