Brokenshire’s Warning to the London Mayor

Following the publication of the NPPF on the 24th July 2018, James Brokenshire wrote to the Mayor of London giving him a serious talking to on meeting housing need.

Consultation on the Replacement London Plan was undertaken between December 2017 and March 2018. The Replacement Plan proposed to go further than previous iterations of the London Plan, going beyond strategic policies and proposing an increased housing figure of 65,000 dwellings per annum. The increased numbers were proposed to be met through increased densities and more reliance on Brownfield Sites coming forward.

On the 27th July 2018, James Brokenshire wrote to the Mayor of London, stating that the Mayor is responsible for delivering the strategy to significantly increase housing delivery in London and will be held to account for delivering London’s housing targets, suggesting that the proposed figure of 65,000 is not enough. The Governments standard methodology for OAN results in a capped figure of 72,407dpa and an uncapped figure of 95,267dpa.

The HBF also argued that the figure of 65,000 is not enough taking into consideration the standard methodology as proposed by CLG in 2017. The GLA’s approach to calculating OAN differs from the standard methodology as they created their own demographic and households projections which resulted in figures that were lower than the CLG’s projections. The CLG’s approach would also require more adjustment for affordable housing.

Brokenshire writes:

“London faces the most severe housing pressures in the country with median house prices now over 12 times median earnings – comparing to an England wide ratio of below 8 – and far more than what an individual can typically expect to borrow for a mortgage”.

Nobody is denying that London is unaffordable, however, it is of note that the Conservative housing minister is placing blame on the current Labour Mayor. The issue of housing and affordability and it’s resolution in London needs to go beyond politics.

It may well be that the approach that the GLA have taken is suitable for London, however as the HBF have noted, it has more significant wide reaching implications for surrounding South-East authorities, and so the standard methodology should be adopted by the Mayor.

The New London Plan will continue to Examination which is programmed for later this year. But in accordance with the new NPPF, plans that don’t meet the full housing requirements will be subject to early review. This means that the London Plan will be adopted and then the GLA will need to go back to the drawing board with a new evidence base, an updated SHLAA and new models for capacity created (we can’t mention the Green Belt though!).

A newer London Plan can then be expected….

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There are also a number of other concerns raised in the letter, including inconsistencies with National policies, the extent of details in policies going beyond the requirements of a Strategic Plan, the Plan does not provide enough information on delivery and collaboration and the Secretary of State requires a consistent approach to setting building standards through the framework of Building Regulations.

Examination in Public

On 13 August 2018 the Mayor published a version of the draft Plan that includes minor suggested changes as the GLA prepare for the Exmination in Public. More details can be found here:

What we think….

The housing industry will surely welcome Brokenshire’s letter to increase housing supply, whereas residents of a certain generation may not welcome it so much with the standard response likely to be destruction of green fields, increased number of cars and there’s already enough houses being built…

However, if they’ve got a grown-up child living at home trying to save their pennies or know a young professional spending most their wages on renting a room, maybe they’ll start the realise the harsh reality that we do need to provide for and build more homes….

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