Fix the Housing Crisis

The chronic undersupply of housing in the capital is giving rise to a host of problems for London businesses. These include difficulties recruiting and retaining staff, and impacts upon employee productivity[1]. As housing costs rise further, London risks losing the skilled workers who are critical to the city's future competiveness.

The new Mayor of London should:

Target smaller sites identified by the London Land Commission, cut planning red-tape and establish a Small Developers Panel 

The creation of the London Land Commission (LLC), with its role to identify brownfield land for development and help co-ordinate and accelerate the release of land for much needed homes, is a positive step towards boosting London's housing supply. However, only by helping to facilitate the entry of a significant number of small builders into the marketplace will the LLC fully capitalise upon its potential. The next Mayor should use the LLC to allocate a number of smaller sites for development specifically by small builders. LCCI's 2014 report, Getting our House in Order, found that small builders were uniquely positioned to develop small plots of land. The Mayor should support them by cutting red tape and by providing relief for upfront costs which are likely to stall businesses which might lack substantial financial resources. Establishing a Small Developers Panel would simplify the planning system for inexperienced or under-resourced firms, and help speed up building.

Review the status of poor quality land within the greenbelt, work with local authorities to reclassify derelict commercial space for mixed residential use and support increased housing density around local transport hubs

LCCI's 2015 report, Unlocking London's Housing Potential, highlighted that key to tackling London's housing crisis is getting the most out of London's finite land supply. Reviewing the status of poor quality greenbelt land will enable the new Mayor to identify opportunities for housing but at the same time protect London's valuable green spaces. Promoting increased housing density close to transport commuter hubs will help alleviate London's congested roads by reducing reliance on private transport, whilst utilising derelict commercial space for mixed residential development will provide homes across a range of tenures and prices that are necessary to meet London's varied housing needs.

Work with local authorities to ensure sufficient numbers of homes to rent are included within new developments

Whilst home ownership must remain a realistic aspiration for Londoners, and steps to assist people get onto the housing ladder are welcome, the unique scale of the housing crisis in London has resulted in home ownership becoming increasingly unaffordable to many, leaving renting as the only viable, and often preferred, option in the short to medium-term. LCCI cautions against prioritising the delivery of homes to own over homes to rent, with a thriving and affordable rental market crucial to London given the make-up of its workforce (including those seeking short-term or flexible tenures). The next Mayor should work with local authorities to ensure sufficient numbers of homes to rent are included within new developments, and support London gaining greater powers to determine for itself which types of affordable homes - including homes rent - should be built locally.

Become 'Owner-Landlord' of housing stock for 'blue light' essential workers such as Police, Firefighters and Paramedics

'Blue light' emergency workers are critical to London's economic resilience in the face of a crisis or incident. However, rising housing costs are driving essential workers out of the city, threatening the capital's ability to maintain day to day operations and respond effectively to potential crises. To combat this, the next Mayor should oversee the building of homes for emergency workers - Police, Firefighters and Paramedics - and act as 'Landlord' to guarantee their long term affordability.

[1] LCCI (2014): Getting our house in order: The impact of housing undersupply on London businesses, Figure 2. 33% of London businesses reported the shortage of affordable homes near to workplaces as impacting upon employee punctuality and productivity.

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