Business lobby group London First calls on mayor Sadiq Khan to make good on his election pledge

London mayor Sadiq Khan’s planned Homes for Londoners must be a “muscular” body with first dibs on public land for sale and compulsory purchase powers, according to a new report.

The report, published by business lobby group London First and law firm Dentons, calls on the mayor to make good on his pre-election promise to set up Homes for Londoners (HfL), which Khan said would bring together all of City Hall’s housing, planning, funding and land powers.

The report argues City Hall must evolve from being a body that sets strategies and distributes a small amount of government money to fund housebuilding to instead becoming a more interventionist body – one that rolls up its sleeves and acquires land from other public bodies, and use its compulsory purchase powers where needed to help get more homes built.

It argues that HfL’s primary role should be getting public land ready for development, assembling sites where practical around core public land holdings. The report says HfL should set an acceptable level of density for development, and offer land to the market with clear requirements about the mix of tenures required.

Housing was the central issue of the mayoral election and Khan made it clear building more homes, particularly affordable homes is his top priority. His manifesto promised to “tackle the housing crisis, building thousands more homes for Londoners each year”.

Jonathan Seager, housing director at London First, said: “The case for Homes for Londoners is clear. London must double its rate of housebuilding if it is to adequately house a growing population and keep the city competitive. A step-change in delivery is required now.”

Stephen Ashworth, partner at global law firm Dentons, said: “In London we are falling lamentably and wilfully short of delivering the number of homes that we all need - and that is unacceptable and dangerous.”

Report: Wider objectives for Homes for Londoners

Beyond the primary role of getting a pipeline of public land ready for development the report also calls for HfL to:

  • Provide additional resource to support London’s boroughs in planning for and delivering more homes, and work to influence policy in London and central government to support an increase in housebuilding;
  • Direct GLA resources, as far as possible, towards transport and wider infrastructure investment which support the delivery of new homes;
  • Forge a new relationship with housing associations to increase supply and coordinate the pan-London delivery of affordable homes;
  • Use the limited funds available to support HfL’s public land programme and to more generally offer financial assistance to support a greater variety of home providers in London; and
  • Ensure there is a skilled workforce able to provide the homes London needs, and that innovative construction methods are proactively explored where this can accelerate supply.

Source: London First and Dentons