London's next Mayor must formulate and present a credible housing plan

As the date for the next London Mayoral draws closer, the debate between candidates and their manifestos is heating up.

The Labour and Conservative candidates – who are close rivals and considered by many to be the two main candidates for the post – have clearly put housing at the centre of their promises for the capital.

Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith is promising to build 50,000 properties per year by 2020 while Labour’s Sadiq Khan wants more than 50,00 new homes per year, half of which must fall under the ‘affordable’ criteria so as not to freeze ‘normal’ Londoners out of the market.

While both these plans sound good in theory, the House Builder’s Federation has entered the fray requesting ‘credible’ plans that would stand up to scrutiny and fulfil 10 key points in its blueprint to benefit London, it’s inhabitants and the economy.

Commenting on the launch of the Blueprint earlier in April, HBF Executive Chairman, Stewart Baseley said: “We welcome the very vocal commitments of candidates to increase housing supply in London. We now need to see realistic, workable policies to be developed that will allow these homes to be built.”

The 10-points identified by the HBF are:

  • Securing the deliverability of more housing sites
  • Maintaining investment in London
  • Co-operation with the wider South East
  • Implementing and supporting effective planning resources
  • Supporting the delivery of rented housing
  • Making the most of existing estates
  • Releasing more surplus public sector land
  • Supporting London Help to Buy
  • Backing powers to turn underused commercial spaces into homes
  • Investment in infrastructure to safeguard the lifeblood of the Capital

By creating a plan that would incorporate these 10 details, the HBF suggests the next London mayor would show he or she truly understands the current housing crisis being experienced in the London and other parts of the country. And, not only that, but has identified a way to manoeuvre through the overcome that crisis with a solid, usable and clear framework.

“The capital’s chronic housing shortage and resultant affordability crisis now threatens London’s status as a global powerhouse and can only be solved by a sustained increase in supply, Mr. Baseley said. “We need to maintain a strong investment environment for developers, keep sites deliverable and ensure that planning resources are in place so that builders can obtain planning permission and get on site as quickly as possible.” 

As you can see, the HBF’s blueprint is very much focussed on making the planning process easier and getting more people working closely together in order to speed the planning and building process up. This is crucial to ensuring enough homes are built as quickly as possible – figures continually show that the UK already has too few homes for the growing population so any plan that identifies that and seeks to help improve the situation has to be considered at the very least.

If the next London Mayor truly wants to help support and manage a city that will withstand economic and humanitarian developments and problems, then ensuring there are enough homes and a workable framework for builders and investors is surely a big step in the right direction.