Khan launches draft London Plan to increase housing capacity

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draft London Plan

Sadiq Khan is ready to ‘rip up’ planning rules in challenging housebuilders to develop affordable housing sites at higher densities to substantially increase capacity in London

In a major housing policy in his new draft London Plan – launched today (November 29) – Khan said out-dated construction constraints and rigid density guidelines have had their day.

In the new draft London Plan, Sadiq Khan has set out how he will ask homebuilders to maximise the use of valuable land in the city – and that means developing sites with more homes on them than existing developments nearby that would have had to follow previous guidelines.

Khan believes increased numbers of homes should be built on sites near town centres or good public transport, reducing the need for car parking spaces within developments.

The mayor’s plan states proposed development on sites that do not maximise housing density should be refused.

Instead, the future has councils working with developers and housing associations taking a case-by-case approach to each site to determine its capacity based on surrounding infrastructure.

The new policy also emphasises the importance of good design and will be applicable to buildings of all types, including low-rise, medium and high-rise.

This approach is supported by a stronger policy on housing standards, including minimum space standards, which sets out how a home should be designed.

While Khan is encouraging homebuilders to make the best use of land in the capital, he expects councils to refuse any applications that come forward with homes that do not meet his new standards.

The draft also includes the mayor’s key strategic housing commitment for 50% of all new homes built to be genuinely affordable – to be achieved through planning, investment and building on public land.

It strengthens his new approach offering private developers a fast-track route to planning permission if they reach a minimum of 35% affordable.

New ambitious targets have been set for councils across the capital, as part of an overall London Plan figure of 65,000 homes a year – around double the current rate of homebuilding.

For the first time, targets in the plan show how capacity can also be reached on small sites, which must now make a significant contribution to housing supply.

Khan believes there is capacity for 24,500 homes a year on London’s small sites – typically those between one and 25 homes.

He said: “With London’s population expected to increase by 70,000 every year, reaching 10.8 million in 2041, it’s vital we properly plan for growth with new affordable homes in every area of the capital.

“I am using all of the powers at my disposal in my first draft London Plan to tackle the housing crisis head on – removing ineffective constraints on homebuilders so that we can make the most of precious land in the capital to build more homes in areas with the best transport links.”

Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of business group, London First, said: “London’s success comes from the people who live and work here and we’ve been failing to build the homes they need for too long. The mayor’s commitment to tackling our housing crisis is hugely welcome, but the London Plan must now deliver its part.

“By being smart about how and where we build, making better use of land and setting targets that councils can and must hit, the mayor will help open a door for the countless people priced out of a place to call home.”

Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders said: “Making better use of the many existing small sites that are scattered over the capital is essential if we are to build the number of new homes Londoners need.

“The London Plan’s moves to favour appropriate residential development on small sites is therefore a welcome initiative. It will also boost and strengthen the capacity of small and medium-sized house builders to build more new homes.

FMB research has consistently shown that a lack of available and viable land is the main factor constraining the ability of small builders to deliver more homes. Indeed, over half of SME housebuilders believe that the number of small site opportunities is, if anything, decreasing.

“The London Plan goes further to address this issue than the proposed changes to national policy laid out in the government’s Housing White Paper.

“In order to reach the 66,000 new homes London needs to build each year, this renewed emphasis on small sites is vital.”

Launched today, the draft London Plan has a three month consultation period from 1 December.

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