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Brokenshire threatens to intervene in mayor's housing plans

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Housing and communities secretary James Brokenshire has threatened to intervene in the mayor of London’s housing plans, although Sadiq Khan (Lab) has warned the government must invest more money into capital’s housing sector if it wants to see changes.

Responding to an open letter published yesterday by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, which threatened intervention over the mayor’s draft London Plan, Mr Khan cited “huge government cuts” as a reason for low delivery numbers on “genuinely” affordable homes.

A spokesperson for Mr Khan said City Hall has “started building more genuinely affordable homes, including more social homes… smashing the record under previous mayors”.

“This was despite the huge government cuts to housing funding the capital faces, with funding for London nearly two-thirds lower than the level left by the government in 2009-10. The evidence speaks for itself: more genuinely affordable and social homes with under this mayor and nothing but abject failure from the current government,” the spokesman said.

In his letter to the mayor, written Friday and published on Monday, Mr Brokenshire said the government had increased its investment in affordable housing by a further £1.67bn in the spring statement and announced last month that London boroughs can bid for “up to £500m additional borrowing headroom to build more council houses”.

While first welcoming the mayor’s proposed increase of London’s housing target from 42,000 to 65,000 homes a year as a “helpful first step”, Mr Brokenshire said he was “not convinced” over the mayor’s assessment of affordable housing need.

Mr Brokenshire said: “As mayor of London you are responsible for delivering the strategy to significantly increase housing delivery in London and you will be held to account for delivering London’s housing targets. It is in the public interest that there is much more, and more regular, information in the public domain on housing delivery across London and I have asked my officials for advice on what can be done to increase transparency of the net additions to the housing stock in London.”

Other concerns raised in the letter are that the draft plan:

  • appears “inconsistent” with national policy, especially on car parking and its allowance for developers to build on people’s gardens
  • “strays considerably” beyond providing a strategic framework
  • “does not provide enough information” on how the Greater London Authority will ensure targets are delivered, especially on collaboration with boroughs
  • must set a “consistent approach” to setting building standards through the framework of building regulations
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