London’s suburbs could see a huge increase in housebuilding after Mayor Sadiq Khan announced he would relax planning rules that protect local character.
His draft London plan states that the capital’s outer boroughs must build more homes over the next decade than there are in the entire city of Manchester.
A third of new housing will be built on small sites, including in back gardens and upward extensions of existing houses, apartment blocks and shops.
The plan, which sets London’s development strategy until 2029, calls for more than 250,000 homes to be built in 13 outer suburbs, according to the Guardian.
It is part of a new London-wide housebuilding target of 650,000 homes over that period, more than double the current rate.
“I am using all of the powers at my disposal to tackle the housing crisis head on, removing ineffective constraints on homebuilders so we make the most of precious land in our capital,” Khan said.
The suburban boroughs with the biggest housing targets are Barnet in north London and Croydon in the south, which are each expected to grow by 30,000 homes.
Meanwhile, the east London boroughs of Newham and Tower Hamlets have been set the highest targets of 38,500 and 35,110 new homes respectively.
Khan’s plan also proposes a new generation of temporary prefabricated homes to be erected on vacant sites awaiting long-term development.
The draft policy confirms that the Mayor wants 50% of new homes across London to be affordable, with a minimum of 35% on private sites and at least 50% on public sector land.
He said they must be built alongside private housing rather than in separate ghettos and at least 30% of new homes must be available at the cheapest social rent.
Conservatives at City Hall accused Khan of “declaring war on the suburbs” with a plan that would leave outer boroughs “browner, overcrowded and harder to get around”.
Andrew Boff, the deputy chairman of the London assembly committee that will scrutinise the draft London plan, said: “The strategy removes protection against building in gardens and abandons restrictions on the density of new developments.”
Under the proposals, planners should no longer reject applications in order to preserve the character of areas within 800 metres of transport hubs or town centres.
Limits on the density of development would be lifted and the plan says proposals that do not optimise housing density should be rejected.
City Hall wants to encourage smaller builders back into the market by removing barriers to development on small sites they are more likely to be able to afford.
According to London First, the business campaign group, just 1,159 homes were built in zones five and six in the first six months of this year.
Khan is determined to increase the number of homes for young, cash-strapped Londoners. He recently ordered housebuilder Barratt to double the proportion of affordable homes at a major development in north-west London as a condition of winning planning permission.
DealMakerz can see the logic behind the draft plan – it’s hoped the emphasis on London’s suburbs will produce cheaper homes than we’ve seen in recent years.
But it’s concerning the plan offers no additional protection for the Green Belt, which Khan has previously vowed to uphold. This is unlikely to go down well with the environmentalists.
There’s also a danger it could result in the quality of London’s housing being downgraded, with some critics fearing families will be crammed into developments the size of rabbit hutches.