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First details of new City Hall team tasked with speeding up housebuilding

Housing was the central issue of the Mayoral election and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has made it clear that building more homes, particularly affordable homes, is his top priority.

During his election campaign, the Mayor proposed setting up Homes for Londoners (HfL), to “bring together all the Mayor’s housing, planning, funding, and land powers alongside new experts to raise investment and assemble land”.

London First, working with the law firm Dentons, published a report in July, Homes for Londoners: A blueprint for how the Mayor can deliver the homes London needs, which calls on the Mayor to make HfL a “muscular” body.

Homes for Londoners

The Mayor has now released the first details of his plan for Homes for Londoners, a new team at City Hall, to oversee housebuilding in the capital and boost the delivery of new and affordable homes.

As a first step, he has begun recruiting new experts to scrutinise ‘viability assessments’ – the financial details that lie behind how much affordable housing new developments include.

The team, who will be drawn from finance surveyors and property consultant experts and be based at City Hall, will support housing delivery by making planning decisions faster and more consistent, and by ensuring new developments include the maximum amount of affordable housing.
  
Blueprint for delivering new homes

Our report argues that City Hall must evolve from being a body that sets strategies and distributes a small amount of government money to fund housebuilding, to a more muscular body.

It must be able to roll up its sleeves and acquire land from other public bodies, and use its compulsory purchase powers, where appropriate, to help get more homes built and keep London competitive.

The report sets out a blueprint for what HfL should concentrate on, from the perspective of London business, arguing that HfL’s primary role must be getting public land ready for development.

Speaking at the launch event in July, new deputy mayor for housing, James Murray, picked out the need for the Greater London Authority to turn the public land audit into a deliverable housing programme.

Homes for Londoners board

The Mayor will also lead a new ‘Homes for Londoners’ board, formed of London Boroughs, housing associations, and developers. The board will oversee delivery, land assembly and investment decisions, and will draw on expertise from across the housing and property sectors to help develop new policy for the capital.

Responding to the press release, Baroness Jo Valentine, chief executive of London First, said:

“The creation of Homes for Londoners is an important and encouraging step if we are to solve the capital’s housing crisis. We want it to have a relentless focus on delivery, including getting more public land into the market.”

Watch: Deputy Mayor for Housing, James Murray

James Murray spoke at the report launch about how the Greater London Authority wants to work closely with London First and our members to tackle London’s housing crisis.

A review of capacity and skills across the GLA will now get underway. Its aim is to ensure the ‘Homes for Londoners’ team can play a more active role in the delivery of housing, particularly in bringing forward public land in London, and speeding up the planning process. This may also lead to additional expertise and support being recruited into the team in due course.

London First will continue to work with the new Mayor, and now Homes for Londoners, to deliver the homes London needs. Part of our work has been initiating a business-led campaign, Fifty Thousand Homes, to double housebuilding in London to at least 50,000 homes a year by the end of the next Mayoralty in 2020.

Contact: Jonathan Seager, jseager@londonfirst.co.uk

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