If Sadiq Khan cannot deliver the number of homes London needs, then I will, secretary of state insists

The Greater London Authority is failing to provide enough affordable homes under Sadiq Khan’s leadership, Michael Gove has said, pointing out that the Labour mayor missed his London Plan target by approximately 15,000 homes each year. The London Plan target is to deliver 520,000 homes over 10 years. 


Housing secretary Michael Gove

Responding to a letter from Khan and the London Housing Delivery Taskforce sent in November, which set out key asks to avert a slowdown in affordable housing delivery, including the injection of £2.2bn in grant funding, Gove said that “it is not right or fair” for London to rely on more public subsidy.

In a letter dated 18 December, the secretary of state instead highlighted that London was the worst-performing region in the Housing Delivery Test 2022. Fewer than half of London boroughs and development corporations delivered more than 95% of their appropriate housing requirement for the test over the three-year monitoring period, he added.

As a result, Gove said he has asked a panel of expert advisers, led by Christopher Katkowski, a barrister specialising in planning, to examine aspects of the London Plan “which could be preventing thousands of homes being brought forward, with a particular focus on brownfield sites in the heart of our capital”.

Gove added: “In a city with such high land values, it is not right or fair to taxpayers and other parts of England for you to rely on more public subsidy to catalyse development in London when it is regulatory complexity that so often makes new building too difficult.”

>> See also: Khan hits 116k affordable homes starts target

>> See also: Sadiq Khan to divert AHP development grant into buying 10,000 existing private homes

Gove said that London will receive £4bn to deliver new affordable homes, and that significant funding has already been allocated for infrastructure projects, such as £257m for new trains and sidings on the DLR, which he said will unlock around 12,000 homes in the Royal Docks and Isle of Dogs and £195m to unlock over 6,700 homes at Meridian Water.

In the letter, Gove warned Khan: “If you cannot do what is needed to deliver the homes that London needs, I will.”

This echoes comments made in Gove’s speech today announcing changes to the National Planning Policy Framework, in which he stated that he reserves the right to intervene in London and that the London Plan Khan has adopted is “not the right plan for London”.

Gove repeated that the average number of net additional dwellings built by the GLA per year is 38,000, which he said is 15,000 fewer homes every year than Khan’s target in the London Plan.

Gove added: “Not only that, but it was over 63,000 homes lower than actual need last year, as calculated by the standard method, the target setting process.”

In response to Gove’s letter, a spokesperson for the mayor of London said: “London as a whole has outbuilt the rest of the country since Sadiq took office in 2016 and housing completions in London in recent years are at the highest level since the 1930s, with the highest council homebuilding since the 1970s.

“If the rest of the country had built housing at the same rate as London since 2016, there would be more than 300,000 additional homes nationwide.

“This is despite the fact that decades of austerity, high inflation and a lack of national leadership has culminated in a major decline in housebuilding across the country. Housing experts are already warning that national housebuilding could fall to the lowest level since the Second World War due to insufficient government investment.

“Sadiq has repeatedly called on ministers to safeguard the supply of new homes in the capital by immediately injecting £2.2bn in emergency funding and £4.9bn a year in affordable housing investment, and give housebuilders urgent clarity on new fire safety rules around second staircases on taller buildings.”

And Muniya Barua, deputy chief execuive of business lobby group Business London, formerly London First, warned: “Unlocking the homes London needs will require collaboration at all levels of London government but one step central government must urgently take to boost the construction of new homes is to issue guidance on second staircases in tall residential buildings. The lack of clarity on this issue is currently the biggest blocker of construction in London.”