Affordable homes in London?

In October last year Lord Bob Kerslake was tasked with reviewing delivery of affordable housing by the GLA (Greater London Authority) Group.  The aim was to streamline and improve, with the ultimate goal of increasing supply of genuinely affordable housing across London, and to investigate the use of a City Hall developer.  The review was carried out at pace and the recommendations were published on 18 March 2022, “Review of GLA Group Housing Delivery”.  On the same date the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, committed to implement the recommendations. 

The Review makes 15 recommendations regarding:

Oversight of GLA Group housing delivery;

GLA Group collaboration on housing delivery;

City Hall developer;

LLDC transition;

Finance and funding.

The first recommendation requires the Mayor to mandate a statement of shared policy confirming priorities for housing development on GLA Group land.  The London Mayor issued this statement on 18 March, endorsed by senior leaders across the Group.  This enshrines the minimum expectation for 50% affordable housing and development meeting London Plan policies on good growth on GLA Group sites.  An important example to set for development in London more generally.

A recurring theme within recommendations is the need to work better together, within the GLA Group and with third parties.  Bringing the organisations within the Group in line with each other will more easily enable joint working and also improve opportunities for staff to move between roles and progress.

A new senior professional lead giving strategic oversight and leadership will be a single point of contact across the Group.  This will be supported by a housing delivery forum.  A Centre for Expertise and peer review of schemes will enable expertise to be shared.  An internal planning consultancy, appropriately separate to the Mayor’s statutory planning functions, can ensure a more consistent approach.

The first step for a City Hall developer will be to consolidate and expand existing development activities.  It should work to a rolling 5-year business plan.  Although the GLA Group holds more than 2,750 hectares of land, only a limited amount can be redeveloped.  As such, a City Hall developer should take a more proactive role in land assembly, requiring increased funding, resource and expertise.

There are currently 60,000 homeless households, including over 84,000 children, across London and significant numbers of people living in overcrowded conditions.  The GLA Group cannot solve this alone but incorporating the recommendations in the short term will hopefully mean a step change in public sector affordable housing delivery.

Posted on 7 April, 2022 by Ortolan

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