Home Residential PropertyNew Build London boroughs ‘ready with hardhats on, shovels in hand’ to help boost housebuilding

London boroughs ‘ready with hardhats on, shovels in hand’ to help boost housebuilding

8th Jul 24 4:32 pm

Responding to the Chancellor’s speech on housing and planning reform, London boroughs have welcomed the renewed focus on housebuilding.

The announcements included investment in council planning officers, a new taskforce to accelerate stalled housing sites, and the restoration of mandatory housing targets.

Boroughs have long sought to turbocharge housebuilding in the capital to encourage economic growth and address London’s worsening homelessness emergency.

The capital faces the most severe housing pressures in the country. London Councils estimates one in 50 Londoners is currently homeless and living in temporary accommodation. More than 320,000 households are on waiting lists for social housing in the capital.

London Councils also highlights the pipeline of 283,000 potential new homes already granted planning permission in London and waiting to be built.

Cllr Claire Holland, Deputy Chair of London Councils, said on Monday afternoon, “Boroughs are strongly pro-housing growth and welcome the Chancellor prioritising this pivotal issue. We’re standing with hardhats on, shovels in hand, and ready to work with the government on our shared housebuilding ambitions.

“There is a desperate need to build more homes in the capital. Without new housing – particularly affordable housing and homes for social rent – London’s homelessness crisis will only continue to worsen. The capital’s future success depends upon us tackling this.

“Boroughs have a key role to play. We have a good record in supporting housebuilding and in granting planning permission, but we’re keen to go even further in ensuring more homes get built, more quickly. As well as reforming the planning system to maximise delivery, we also need to look at the wider challenges undermining housebuilding – such as lack of crucial local infrastructure, construction skills shortages, and insufficient long-term funding for developing affordable homes.”

The London Plan 2021 sets a target of 52,000 new homes per annum. Boroughs grant planning permission for over 57,000 new homes each year (on average, based on annual approvals between 2020 and 2023).

Boroughs’ planning departments also perform comparatively well in terms of the speed of decisions. Over the last two years, 88% of major planning applications across England and 93% in London were approved within 13 weeks or within the agreed time period (according to DLUHC figures).

Boroughs say that additional resources for planning teams will bolster capacity and their ability to support more housebuilding in their communities. In the context of massive funding pressures on local government – with London Councils estimating that boroughs’ resources are 28% lower than in 2010 – a stable financial footing for councils is a core factor in facilitating housing delivery.

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