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Sadiq Khan: Construction targets require more government cash

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The mayor of London has told Construction News the capital will not hit its housebuilding targets or build the infrastructure it needs without increased government spending.

cn lgc combined

cn lgc combined

Sadiq Khan said London needed “much more help” from the government if it is to double the number of houses built every year or deliver projects such as Crossrail 2 or the Bakerloo line extension.

The warning followed the publication of the mayor’s draft London Plan in which he laid out proposals to build 65,000 homes a year, with 50 per cent of those to be affordable.

Commenting on these targets, Mr Khan told LGC’s sister title: “We can’t do it without government, it is as simple as that.

“What I have set out is a blueprint of how we get there; the government has to do much, much more to help.”

Included in this demand was a call for the government to increase its spending on affordable homes by a factor of five.

The mayor said: “In relation to affordable homes, experts estimate [we need] £2.7bn a year; the government is currently giving us £500m a year, so a fivefold increase in affordable homes is needed.”

Housing was at the centre of chancellor Philip Hammond’s Budget, with the Treasury pledging £15.3bn of new financial support to help the government build 300,000 homes a year. 

Mr Khan said that, in addition to more funds, it was crucial the government divested more powers to local authorities and allow them more freedom to borrow money to build houses. 

The mayor also attacked the Budget, saying it was the “most anti-London in a generation”.

He said: “The government has got to give councils the ability to borrow municipally; councils want to build council homes but they can’t borrow to build those homes.

“There are easy things the government could do to free us up to build the homes we need, the communities we need.

“There are many examples where there is potential for land that is just not being realised, and the government needs to step up.”

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “The simple truth is that for far too long we haven’t built enough homes and we don’t build them quickly enough – so it’s time to fix that.

“We have set out a new transparent approach to housing needs in local areas, taking into account the affordability of homes locally – this is a starting point for agreeing a housing requirement for the capital.

“The mayor and boroughs will still need to factor in constraints and look at whether they can work collaboratively across London to maximise housing and growth opportunities to meet demand.

“We are working closely with the mayor and London boroughs to identify the opportunities to deliver a step-change in housing supply.”

Speaking at last month’s CN Summit, deputy mayor for transport Val Shawcross revealed that she was set to have showdown talks with the Department for Transport over the future of Crossrail 2.

Commenting on the project, Mr Khan said he was frustrated with progress on the scheme and that government had moved the goalposts on what it needed from London.

He said: “My frustration is we need to get going on this, we need a hybrid bill in 2020.

“At a time of uncertainty caused by Brexit for business, one thing we can do is invest in infrastructure, and I think crossing that line on Crossrail 2 will give the businesses the certainty they need.”

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