The housing crisis has been a key focus throughout the mayoral campaign, but how will the planning sector change to accommodate this according to the leading candidates? We have put together a breakdown on their planning aims should they be elected as Mayor of London on 5th May.
Of key interest in Zac Goldsmith’s (Conservative) manifesto is the creation of ‘flying planners’ to unlock long term ‘stalled’ sites across the capital. These planners will be part recruited and part funded by the private sector to speed up the planning process. Goldsmith would also give great weight to the views of local people, affording more importance to the Statement of Community Involvement Reports submitted with planning applications, as well as providing a quicker determination for schemes that have been ‘co-designed’ by their local communities.
Sadiq Khan’s (Labour) main platform is to create ‘Homes for Londoners’, a team at City Hall to fast-track the building of new homes, of which he wants to see 50% affordable, either as social rent, properties that cost no more than 1/3 monthly income, or shared ownership properties to buy or rent. Uniquely, his manifesto talks about protecting London’s ‘iconic’ pubs and those residents who have been affected by large basement excavations. Khan also wants to grant local authorities borrowing power to boost their housing developments.
Caroline Pidgeon (Liberal Democrat) has vowed to undertake an ‘Olympic-sized effort’ to build 200,000 new homes in the next four years, (50,000 for social rent and 150,000 for private rent or sale) using the Olympic Games Precept. She also would create the London Housing Company, merging public land with private investment. Like Goldsmith, she places high value on community consultation and would grant access for the public when discussing opportunity area or strategic projects. Pigeon would also establish a Skyline Commission to determine the location of tall towers in the capital, and whilst he does not go to this extreme, Khan has also announced his desire to make sure that tall buildings are suited to their surroundings.
All three of these candidates have a number of overlapping promises, including a commitment to building on brownfield sites and their ambition to encourage homes dedicated to the private rental sector. They have each vowed create a levy to charge developers who try to ‘land bank’ and want to support Housing Associations and small businesses to develop more across London.
Sian Berry (Green) has also announced her intention to develop on brown field land, however she has stated that she doesn’t want to work with large developers. Berry wants to stop the redevelopment of existing estates and create a Community Homes Unit to support community-led housing schemes, allowing residents across London to develop their own masterplans for the kind of refurbishment and redevelopment they want to see in their area.
Peter Whittle (UKIP) has stated his intention to give Londoners a final say in major planning decisions through binding referendums, if over five per cent of locals want one. He would encourage London Boroughs to prioritise social housing for those who have lived in the capital for at least five years and would create a comprehensive register of brownfield land available in London.
No matter who is elected on 5th May, it would seem likely that developers are going to get a tougher ride on larger applications, with a huge drive on affordable homes, as well as the need for community support, making consultation even more important than it has been previously.