Rory announces "Just Build It", the largest public house-building drive in London for more than a generation
“Just Build it!” Rory Stewart commits to deliver the largest public house-building drive in London for more than a generation - ensuring public land is used for public benefit.
Announcing the core pillars of his housing policy, Rory Stewart - Independent candidate for Mayor of London - slammed the current Mayor, Sadiq Khan, for relentlessly selling off public land and utterly failing to build the houses London needs.
By contrast, “Just Build It!” will be driven by a focus on immediate housing delivery, and long-term investment on behalf of all Londoners. Instead of relying on private developers, Rory will establish ‘The Mayor’s Building Company’ - to construct the homes London needs himself - and introduce a “use it or lose it” policy to combat the prevalence of stalled sites across the city.
As Mayor, Rory will:
- Halt the sell-off of public land under the Mayor’s control - on day one, and instead use the land to develop homes that Londoners can afford. The current Mayor is selling off public land, including huge swathes of Transport for London property, to plug short-term gaps in his budget - with no thought for the long term.
- Establish the Mayor’s Building Company to own and develop public land, creating homes for Londoners. The Company will build hundreds of thousands of homes, the vast majority of which will be affordable. Rent will be linked to people’s incomes rather than an average wage, and a significant proportion will be allocated for key workers whose services the city relies on, including teachers, nurses, fire personnel and police officers.
- Implement a “Use It Or Lose It” policy to ensure developers build the houses London needs more quickly on these sites - and to combat the prevalence of stalled sites across the city. In future, developers will have a limited amount of time to develop sites that they have planning permission for - or lose them.
- Launch a review into the 200,000 stalled units which currently have both land and planning permission, but are not being built on - an unacceptable situation given that thousands of Londoners are struggling to find adequate housing. Rory has already identified these sites, and will personally meet with the developers of the twenty most important sites.
Rory Stewart, Independent Candidate for Mayor of London, said:
“For too long, politicians have taken a hands-off approach to building the homes London needs - throwing numbers and slogans around, but doing very little to make them a reality. There has been a great deal of talk, and very little action.
“As Mayor I would stop the sale of public land - on day one. Sadiq Khan is currently robbing future generations of Londoners, selling off the family silver to plug holes in his budget. Instead of unsustainable asset-stripping, I would use public land for public benefit - building affordable homes, and creating a permanent investment for the benefit of all Londoners.
“As Mayor, I won’t sit around waiting for private developers - I’ll set up a Mayor’s Building Company and build the homes London needs myself, gripping the problem in a way Sadiq Khan has not.
“I would put the interests of Londoners before anything else. Whether they’re looking to find their first flat, or having to move to start a family - or because they’re thinking about retirement - my message to all Londoners is: you deserve to live safe, dignified, well-designed homes and neighbourhoods, and If I’m elected Mayor I will make that aspiration a reality. A vote for me on 7th May is a vote for less politics and more action on housing.”
Notes to editors
London Mayors’ track record: Affordable housing completions
All Mayors have consistently missed their affordable housing targets. Only in one year was the target met, when it was artificially lowered. The system needs more than tweaking: it needs a radical overhaul, with City Hall being less reliant on private developers in order to meet its targets.
A map of some 200,000 stalled units identified by Rory Stewart, which he would start reviewing on day one in office:
A map of publicly-owned land in London, following a survey by Rory Stewart’s dedicated housing team, indicating space for some 250,000 affordable units, which the Mayor’s Building Company will develop and own on behalf of the city:
The Mayor’s Building Company will work with all the industry’s leaders to get these homes built for people: housing associations, local authorities, housing developers, construction firms - and will encourage SME house-builders by commissioning smaller sites from them.
A proportion of the homes built will be allocated via Local Authorities and Housing Associations to those on waiting lists for social housing. A further allocation will be made for key staff working in London’s public services, such as nurses, police officers, fire personnel, and teachers.
Financing for this house-building effort will come from a combination of central government grant, and pension funds and other investment managers. The Mayor can raise funds over a 40 to 50 year period from pension funds and insurance companies, which seek a low but reliable rate of return. This will build on the model trialled by Legal & General in Croydon, whereby pension funds and others looking to match their liabilities invest in social and affordable housing.
The addition of a government guarantee (in a similar way to the Affordable Homes Guarantee Scheme) would further reduce the cost of borrowing these funds. We estimate that during the first ten years of the Mayor’s Building Company, we will raise up to £40bn in this way, to fund hundreds of thousands of homes. This funding will be off the government’s balance sheet, secured against housing stock and future rental and housing benefit income streams. We will work closely with Local Authorities and Housing Associations across London to optimise the delivery of the affordable housing they need.