Nicky Gavron AM is Labour’s City Hall Planning spokesperson and a London-wide Assembly Member
Londoners are suffering as the government blames everybody else for their economic mess. The economy is not flat-lining because of the planning system or Section 106 agreements for much needed affordable housing, it is flat-lining because of the lack of confidence and demand, caused by the government’s failing economic plan.
In London alone, there are 93,000 houses with planning permission which haven’t been started or been stalled by developers, although the real figure will be much higher.
These are not being built because banks aren’t lending to developers, and because house builders want to limit supply to push up prices and increase their profits. The culprits are the big house-builders who ‘land-bank’ – sitting on land without building – and the big banks who ‘don’t bank’ – not providing mortgages to people.
Since May 2010 the government has cut London’s affordable housing budget by 70% and introduced sky-high rents for new ‘affordable’ homes. Now they are saying developers do not even need to deliver these.
Their proposals are not a viable plan for growth; they are part of an ideological attack on affordable housing and will exacerbate London’s housing crisis.
On the Mayor’s watch affordable housing starts in London have fallen to their lowest level for a decade. The Mayor and government desperately need to adopt a plan for jobs and growth.
While the government are busy blaming everybody but themselves, Londoners are suffering. There is an enormous need for decent low-cost rented housing. Yet the reality is that home ownership is a distant dream for many. Private sector rents are soaring, 200,000 families now live in overcrowded housing, and rough sleeping is rising rapidly after years of decline.