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INCREASING AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROVISION IS NOT A BAR TO NEW HOUSING DEVELOPMENT

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House building in London is increasing and higher levels of affordable housing is being built according to new rese...
House building in London is increasing and higher levels of affordable housing is being built according to new research jointly commissioned by Ken Livingstone, mayor of London and the House Builders Federation.

The report, 'Future Housing provision - speeding up delivery', demonstrates that, despite the affordable housing requirement in London being raised, the rate of affordable housing completions linked to private developments has increased.

In nearly half of all boroughs, the affordable housing provision achieved ranged from 25% to 53%. This report says that this shows that affordable housing policy is not proving a brake on housing development and the mayor's target of 35% social affordable housing and 15% key worker units is achievable. The research also shows that an increasing amount of affordable housing is being provided on site.

Ken Livingstone said: 'This research demonstrates that by seeking higher levels of affordable housing, we are not reducing housing supply. We have an affordable housing crisis in London and the average 19,000 new homes of all tenures being built in London is too low to meet the estimates of growth in new households - let alone the backlog.

'The report findings are encouraging though. They show a significant rise in new private sector housing in the development pipeline, from 23,000 at the end of 1999 to 29,000 at the end of 2000. There are increasing numbers of development opportunities arising in and around outer London which should boost house building rates and boroughs are taking an increasingly imaginative approach to what can be achieved.'

'My priorities are clear - we have to deliver higher levels of affordable housing from the planning system, focus on the needs of key workers or people on moderate incomes as well as those needing traditional social housing. We should also expect all developments, commercial as well as residential, to make affordable housing contributions.'

London boroughs are also demonstrating a commitment to the mayor's 50% affordable housing target with Ealing, Lambeth, Hounslow, and Brent already indicating they will require 50% affordable housing on planning applications subject to individual financial impact assessments. In addition, Harrow and Richmond Upon Thames have indicated that between 40% and 50% affordable housing would be required in certain cases.

The report shows that the vast majority of planning applications (60-75%) are processed in under six months and identifies the main reason for delays as under-resourcing and understaffing in borough planning departments.

It also includes a series of recommendations for the mayor and house builders. Those for the mayor include expressing affordable housing targets as absolute numbers by sub-area rather than by proportion on all sites in the mayor's London Plan, promoting residential inclusions on all suitable commercial developments and developing a standard planning application for all boroughs. It also recommends that project teams should be seconded by the mayor to boroughs to assist in determining large developments and that good practice guides should be issued on Housing in London to give clear policy guidance on planning obligations.

It recommends that house builders should be actively involved in the preparation processes of the London Plan and borough's UDPs rather than delaying challenges to the latter stages of preparation. They should also contribute to the preparation of housing capacity studies and pursue innovative and imaginative mixed use development wherever possible. The report also encourages information and work exchanges with other housing agencies.

Note

1. The mayor and the House Builders Federation commissioned this study to consider future housing provision in London and in particular what could be done to speed up delivery.

2. The study provides an analytical description of the house building industry's operations in London and investigated barriers to the delivery of housing.

3. The project was to provide quantitative and qualitative research findings about development constraints on residential development, although some examples of mixed-use schemes were used as well.

4. The report draws on quantitative data from a variety of sources and in particular, the views of borough planning officers and property professionals involved in housing in London to identify reasons why allocated housing sites do not always come forward and explain why some proposals are particularly slow on reaching completion if ever.

5. The mayor's Spatial Development Strategy (or London Plan) will provide a clear and unequivocal policy context for housing including workable standards in areas such as density and parking. The next draft of the London Plan is due to be published soon.

6. The report 'Future housing provision - speeding up delivery' is available hereand here.

Hard copies are available from the GLA Publications Office, Room A405, Romney House, Marsham Street, London SW1P 3PY, tel: 020 7983 4323 priced£10.

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