Evening Standard comment: A bold plan for tackling London’s housing crisis

Evening Standard comment: A bold plan for tackling London’s housing crisis

Housing and the need to accommodate London’s fast-growing population in good-quality, affordable homes is one of the critical challenges facing the capital. That makes it a key issue in the forthcoming London mayoral contest, which today sees the unveiling by candidate Rory Stewart of imaginative proposals for tackling the problem.

Housing and the need to accommodate London’s fast-growing population in good-quality, affordable homes is one of the critical challenges facing the capital. That makes it a key issue in the forthcoming London mayoral contest, which today sees the unveiling by candidate Rory Stewart of imaginative proposals for tackling the problem.

Mr Stewart, the former Conservative Cabinet minister now standing as an independent, says he can deliver 250,000 new homes within five years by establishing a “Mayor’s Building Company”.

This will be given a swathe of unused land owned by Transport for London to either build new homes itself, or make sites available — free of charge — to housing associations, councils and private developers that are willing to do the same.

He says the critical elements of his scheme are that the land would remain publicly owned, and that the Mayor would play a central role in ensuring that the homes promised are actually delivered — with a “use it or lose it” policy applied to those given land but who then fail to get on with building.

Most of the homes, he says, would be affordable, with rents linked to incomes, not wages. Many would be allocated to key public workers such as teachers and nurses.

Mr Stewart contrasts this with what he claims is the failing policy of current Mayor Sadiq Khan, which he argues has led to unacceptably low levels of building.

Voters will, of course, eventually have the chance to decide whether they accept this narrative, but what is undeniably true  is that the pace of housebuilding in the capital is still much too slow.

It has been particularly lacklustre since Mr Khan took office, making grand promises of his own that have so far come nowhere near being fulfilled.

Mr Stewart points, for example, to what he says are 200,000 “stalled units” for which there is land and planning permission, but no building as yet.

Questions inevitably remain about whether Mr Stewart’s own ambitious plans can be delivered if he enters City Hall in May. But as the mayoral contest hots up — with Mr Khan today unveiling a praiseworthy commitment of his own on violent crime and mentoring children in pupil referral units — it’s good to see a candidate producing genuinely fresh thinking.

We hope to hear more bright ideas from all the mayoral contestants.

 

Read full article here: https://www.standard.co.uk/comment/comment/evening-standard-comment-a-bold-plan-for-tackling-london-s-housing-crisis-a4360181.html

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