Hot on the heels of autumn’s Spending Review, the government started 2016 with yet another proposal to kick start the capital’s faltering housing supply. On January 4th Prime Minister David Cameron announced the government would directly commission 13,000 new homes.
Speaking from the vast Barking Riverside site in East London, Cameron announced that the government would take on responsibility for developing land, rather than leave it to large building firms. The land would then be sold on to smaller developers.
By making five publically-owned sites available for development, the government hopes to help meet its target of 200,000 starter homes by 2020 for first time buyers.
But the government has a mountain to climb in meeting the demand for new homes. London alone needs 50,000-80,000 new homes per year, yet 2012-13 saw only 21,900 homes completed, according to government figures.
Building on public land will not solve the housing crisis by itself. The problem is endemic and requires a range of policy solutions. The planning system is inconsistent and stifles density, whilst land values are too high and land ownership is too fragmented.
London’s complex political structures – with 32 boroughs, the City of London, the GLA’s housing targets, and Westminster’s priorities – the development process moves at a snails pace. More needs to be done to align the tiers of government, clear blockages in the planning process and even review London’s Green Belt.