The House of Commons has produced a briefing paper which
will be helpful for councils in and around London. It considers
evidence of London's housing crisis; how much additional housing is
needed; and the barriers and potential solutions to the issue
arising from a selection of research projects.
The long-term failure to develop sufficient housing in London to
keep up with its growing population, and to deal with the rising
backlog of need, is demonstrated by rising house prices and rents
as well as rising levels of homelessness and overcrowding. The
proportion of households privately renting is growing while owner
occupation (still the tenure of choice) is falling. It's widely
recognised that the lack of affordable housing in London could put
the Capital's economic competitiveness in jeopardy as an increasing
number of London's workers say they are prepared to leave.
Estimates of the need for additional housebuilding in London
fall within a range of 50,000-80,000 per year. Housing completions
are well below this level; 2012-13 saw 21,900 net conventional
completions. The Mayor's Housing Strategy (2014) contains an
ambition to build 42,000 new homes per year for 20 years. Clearly
this is well below assessed need, but the target has been defended
on the grounds that a higher level would exceed assessed capacity,
while the target for affordable housing (45,000 over three years)
is said to be deliverable in the light of available public
There has been a good deal of research over the years into why
London has such a severe housing shortage with a view to
identifying barriers and developing solutions. This research has
highlighted problems with; for example, the planning system
(complex, inconsistent and subject to too much change); land
availability; complex land ownership and high land values; building
at too low densities; and difficulties in accessing finance.
The Mayor and the Greater London Authority have developed
initiatives aimed at promoting development such as Housing Zones
and the London Land Commission. However commentators believe there
is a need to do more and are concerned that some recently announced
policies (reduction of the benefit cap, extending the Right to Buy
and freezing Local Housing Allowance rates) could exacerbate
London's affordability challenges.
It is accepted that there is no single 'silver bullet' solution
for resolving London's housing shortage. There have been calls; for
example, to review the policy of not building on London's Green
Belt; increase density levels; remove blockages from the planning
process and set and enforce 'hard' housebuilding targets for local
The debate continues; the Institute for Public Policy Research
London Housing Commission in June 2015 to decipher
evidence and produce a clear programme of action for London's
housing market, while the London School of Economics launched an
ongoing project in September 2014 which is exploring key barriers
to increasing London's housing supply.
Click to read the full report.