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50 WAYS TO CREATE MORE AFFORDABLE HOMES IN LONDON

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Developing car-free residential areas and converting surplus business units back into homes are two of the ideas ex...
Developing car-free residential areas and converting surplus business units back into homes are two of the ideas examined in a new report on ways to create more affordable housing for Londoners.

The report follows a two year study by London councillors who heard evidence from a number of expert witnesses before drawing up a comprehensive report with nearly 50 recommendations. The report, prepared jointly by the Association of London Government and the London Planning Advisory Committee, will be presented to ministers after going to the ALG Housing Committee for ratification on October 6.

It examines the causes of the current shortage of affordable housing in London and looks at ways of creating another 100,000 affordable homes in such a way as to help regeneration and foster sustainable development.

While some of the recommendations - such as redirecting expenditure from housing benefit payments to investment in social housing - are long-term solutions, many could be carried out relatively easily with quick results. Reducing VAT on social housing refurbishment, for instance, would enable housing associations to carry out more repairs and ensure that vacated homes are occupied more quickly.

Other recommendations include:

- returning residential properties previously converted to offices back into homes

- clamping down on companies which refuse to include some affordable homes on new developments

- more mixed use developments, with homes being provided alongside workplaces, -something particularly relevant in central London where essential workers on low pay require accommodation in the most expensive parts of town

- the introduction of car free areas so that additional homes can be built on land previously used for car parking

ALG housing chair Pete Challis said that the working party had considered a wide range of initiatives. 'Some recommendations may appear obvious. Some - like the phased release of capital receipts to boost housing investment - are already being taken on board by the new government. But others are new and worthy of serious consideration,' he said.

LPAC chair Deborah Sacks said: 'Our work has shown how the planning and housing systems could work together more effectively to increase affordable housing provision, support urban regeneration and foster sustainable development.'

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