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London Mayor Delivers Big Increase in Low-Cost Homes

The Mayor of London’s commitment to increasing the number of genuinely affordable homes being built in the capital is paying off, with developers now including more affordable homes in their development plans than ever before. 

New City Hall analysis of planning data shows that since Sadiq became Mayor in 2016, the proportion of affordable homes in schemes approved by City Hall has nearly doubled – from a historic low 22 per cent in 2016 under the previous Mayor to 40 per cent in 2020 (see Table 1). Meanwhile, the Mayor’s introduction of the planning Fast Track Route for schemes that include at least 35 per cent affordable housing – or 50 per cent on public or redeveloped industrial land – has seen the number of planning applications meeting this threshold soar – increasing by 45 per cent since 2018 (see Table 2). 

These increases translate to thousands of new affordable homes for Londoners, which would not have been built had Sadiq not made them a fundamental part of his vision for London’s future development. Developers have taken note of this commitment to affordable housing in London, alongside supplementary planning guidance and the new London Plan, and are working with the Mayor to deliver the homes Londoners desperately need. 

The new London Plan, published in March, sets out the Mayor’s plan for Good Growth, a key part of which is working to re-balance development in the capital towards more genuinely affordable homes for working Londoners to buy and rent. 13,318 genuinely affordable homes were started in the capital last year despite the disruption and delays caused by the pandemic and Brexit. The Mayor has surpassed the target he agreed with the Government for affordable homebuilding every year since 2016 and construction on affordable homes is underway across London, with every borough reporting new starts in the last financial year.  

The Mayor’s planning powers play an important role in achieving these targets, with Sadiq considering around 170 strategic planning applications every year. In 2020, this resulted in the approval of 38,865 homes where the average proportion of affordable housing per scheme was 40 per cent. 

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “Building more genuinely affordable homes for Londoners continues to be a top priority for me as Mayor. It’s great news that my approach of holding developers to account has led to a sea change in the delivery of affordable homes in our city since 2016. We still have a long way to go to fix the housing crisis, but it’s clear our approach is bearing fruit – helping us to deliver the homes Londoners can actually afford, rather than the luxury penthouse apartments that were prioritised in the past.” 

Geeta Nanda OBE, G15 Chair and Chief Executive of MTVH, said: “G15 members build the majority of London’s affordable homes, and in the last year we have started or completed almost 10,700 much needed new affordable homes in the capital. The Mayor’s fast-track planning route for schemes with high levels of affordable housing has helped to deliver more affordable homes more quickly. We look forward to continuing to work with the Mayor, local councils, the government, and local communities to build the homes that Londoners need.”

Cllr Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ Deputy Chair and Executive member for Housing and Planning, said: “There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that London urgently needs more affordable homes. There are currently around 165,000 Londoners living in temporary accommodation arranged by their local borough – more than the entire population of cities like Norwich or Oxford. Around two thirds (63%) of the total number of homeless families in England are based in the capital. Boroughs welcome the Mayor’s progress on this crucial issue for London.”

Stephanie Pollitt, London First Programme Director for Housing, said: “The Mayor’s ongoing commitment to delivering more genuinely affordable homes is critical and the figures published today are encouraging. However, there is much more that needs to be done to ensure that as many affordable homes as possible come forward through the planning system to delivery. This will take a concerted effort from the both the Mayor and the industry to increase not only affordable homes, but homes of all tenures, to meet the needs of Londoners.”