CROYDON COMMENTARY: Borough councils, including Croydon, have leant heavily on speculative developments to build new homes. But London needs a far more radical approach, according to CHRISTIAN WOLMAR, who is seeking selection by Labour to be the party’s Mayoral candidate
Christian Wolmar: London’s councils need radical help to build homes for Londoners
The London Labour Housing Group holds its hustings for the party’s mayoral candidates this Thursday. It will be a fascinating hustings because housing is the central issue facing Londoners at the moment. It will also be interesting because none of the candidates have really been tested on their housing policies.
What is clear to me is that developers are not the solution to our housing problems. The reason is a little-known thing called “viability”.
That’s why a radical council-led social housing building scheme is one of the core policies of my campaign.
But first, let’s look at what is happening on the ground:
Lambeth Council has a 40 per cent affordable housing target in the borough. An intuitive way to deliver this ambitious but desperately needed target is to ensure that 40 per cent of all new developments are affordable housing. Not so for the high-end Keybridge House development in Vauxhall – of the 419 new homes, a mere 19 will be affordable – that’s just 4.5 per cent.
What is worse is that the story is the same across London. Just down the road, the ultra-luxury (and ultra-lifeless) Nine Elms development in Battersea will see the development of 491 flats, the vast majority of which will all cost more than £1 million. How many affordable houses? A shade better than Keybridge House with a paltry 52, just over 10 per cent.
The trend is the same across London. In March the Greater London Authority released figures showing the number of affordable homes completed is now at a six-year low, despite annual pledges by Boris Johnson to build some imaginary number of affordable homes.