London Land Commission must have teeth to tackle housing crisis - LCCI

Tuesday 12th May 2015

 

London Land Commission must have teeth to tackle housing crisis - LCCI

  • Huge information gap on brownfield land revealed by new report
  • Lack of employee affordable housing now top three issue affecting 51% of businesses
  • London Chamber of Commerce calls for more powerful London Land Commission

The newly-established London Land Commission will struggle to tackle the capital's chronic housing crisis if it is not given more powers to fill the information gap on the amount of brownfield land held by London local authorities, a report released today by London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has found.

The last 'mandatory' count of local authority-owned brownfield land in London was undertaken in 2012 and only 45% of boroughs provided information. This limited sample estimated 3,730 hectares of brownfield land in Greater London.*

LCCI looked to update and complete this sample and issued Freedom of Information requests to each London local authority. Of the 32 issued, 15 boroughs either did not respond, or claimed to hold no information on the amount of brownfield land the organisation owned. The report, Unlocking London's housing potential, quantifies for the first time, the scale of the lack of information held by London's councils, which could potentially cripple the London Land Commission.

The briefing comes one year after London Chamber of Commerce & Industry's report into the impact of the capital's under-supply of housing on businesses. Now, one year out from London's Mayoral elections, new polling from ComRes for the Chamber reveals that 51% of London's business leaders named lack of housing that is affordable to their employees as one of the top three issues affecting their firm.

Commenting on the release of the report, Chief Executive of London Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI), Colin Stanbridge, said: "A year ago we quantified the impact of London's chronic housing shortage on the capital's businesses. In the intervening year, little has been done to tackle the problem.

"While it is no silver bullet to solve the housing crisis, we have long maintained that the first step should be to utilise all available publicly-owned land in the capital. Little action can be taken by the London Land Commission until it has at least a basic understanding of the brownfield land owned by local councils - it is simply not acceptable for it to begin its' work based on incomplete information from 2012.

"We are deeply concerned that the local authorities we asked seemed unable to give us accurate - or in some cases any - information on the amount of brownfield land they own, as it is now clear that the Commission's first task will be to extract this information for itself. The Commission must be given the requisite powers to compel local authorities to play ball.

"London's housing crisis cannot be solved borough by borough, we need all parties to come together to work on a pan-London solution."

LCCI's recommendations to help tackle the housing crisis in London:

  • The Government should honour the £1m annual funding commitment to the London Land Commission
  • Governmental responsibility should rest with the Minister for Housing. The Minister should also sit on the Commission's board and have the power to compel government agencies to comply with its' aims
  • The GLA should be given the task of disposing of government department land assets in Greater London
  • London local authorities should be duty-bound to supply data on surplus land to the Commission and identify a single responsible department
  • Local authorities should work with business to help small developers to enter the market to dispose of smaller sites
  • Local authorities working well within this framework should be awarded greater fiscal freedom as an incentive

ENDS

Media contact
Jo Hooper, Press & Media Relations Manager
T: +44 (0)20 7203 1897                 
M: +44 (0)7827 241528
E: jhooper@londonchamber.co.uk

NOTES TO EDITOR:

  1. London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) is the capital's largest and most representative business organisation, with members ranging in size from multi-national companies to SMEs and sole traders.
  2. * National Land Use Database of Previously Developed Land, Homes & Communities Agency, 2012: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/national-land-use-database-of-previously-developed-land-nlud-pdl
  3. The full report can be found here 
  4. Colin Stanbridge is available for further comment and interview.
  5. ComRes interviewed 503 London business decision makers online between 29th January and 16th February 2015. Data were weighted to be representative of all London businesses by company size and broad industry sector. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Data tables are available on the ComRes website, www.comresglobal.com