Photo: Kyle Gradinger

Next Mayor of London should relinquish control of housing policy

The Housing & Finance Institute has, today, called for the next Mayor of London to loosen the reins on housing policy in the capital.

The recommendation comes as City of London policy chief, Mark Boleat, says London could take one million more homes if it built in greater density.

Natalie Elphicke, Chief Executive of the Housing & Finance Institute, said:

“London needs a devolution revolution to solve its housing crisis. The boroughs must be given the power and responsibility to tackle the problems in their own areas.

“While private housebuilding in England has powered ahead as housebuilding companies recover from the great recession, London has been left lagging behind.”

“Councils are best placed to meet the needs of their communities and they should be given more freedom in London to do so.”

The proposal set out by The Housing & Finance Institute today would see London boroughs greater autonomy on housing. Under the Institute’s plans, the next Mayor would only retain strategic and backstop intervention powers on a devolved basis from central government.

The Mayor would act as an emergency break in the event of serious mismanagement or critical housing underperformance. There would be a clearer separation between the Mayor’s own landholding and developer role and a strategic responsibility to support the role of the Boroughs.

The Institute was set up in June 2015 and aims to bring councils, finance and businesses together to meet housing demand.

Coinciding with this proposal, the City of London’s policy chief and the Chairman of The Housing & Finance Institute, Mark Boleat, has said that London could build one million more homes if it went for greater density.

Boleat said:

“The truth is that we are more sparsely spread than many of our European neighbours. Compare for instance Islington, one of London’s densest boroughs with a 200,000 population living at an average of 138 people per hectare, with Madrid’s Centro district, which has 150,000 people living at an average of 286 people per hectare.

“Building more density does not mean “concreting over the whole of London”, masses of high rise towers, or making London look like Singapore or Hong Kong.

“It means bringing London into line with other European capitals like Paris and Madrid. And it’s about delivering more homes in less space and improving Londoners’ standard of living.”

You can read the Evening Standard’s coverage here.