Michael Gove: Sadiq Khan ‘letting down Londoners’ on housing

Housing Secretary Michael Gove has told the Mayor of London to review two policies in the London Plan – which he blamed on slowing down the production of new homes.

Gove said there were 736 hectares of land being allocated for industry which could potentially be turned into housing developments, but are currently “stuck in the planning system”.

He added that ‘opportunity areas’ need to be reviewed, which are areas seen as having the potential to deliver at least 2,500 homes. There are currently 47 ‘opportunity areas’.

Gove requested for the Mayor to report back by the end of September.

The Housing Secretary’s comments come after a government-commissioned review said Khan’s plan “[works] to frustrate rather than facilitate the delivery of new homes on brownfield sites” in February.

Gove said: “Londoners are being let down by the Mayor’s chronic under delivery of new homes in the capital. We have already taken comprehensive action to reverse this trend – investing billions of pounds to build affordable homes and unlocking brownfield developments as part of our Long-Term Plan for Housing.

“However, that alone will not build the homes we need, which is why I am now directing the Mayor to review aspects of the London Plan and announcing specialist support on planning to help unlock thousands of homes.”

In response, Sadiq Khan, along with Labour leader Keir Starmer, dismissed Gove’s comments as a “political stunt” and “game-playing”, at a time when the London Mayor is set to launch his re-election campaign.

Khan told the Standard: “If you needed a better example of this being a political stunt, he announces it the day I’m launching my campaign – when he knows the big central theme of my announcement today is on housing.

“It’s just another example of this Government being just exhausted and gimmicky, and they’ve run out of road. Why don’t we just call a general election and get it over and done with?”

Starmer added: “Instead of getting on with governing and doing the job that he’s actually there to do, he’s putting out orders this morning precisely because Sadiq is launching his campaign.”

Marc Vlessing at London real estate developer Pocket Living gave his thoughts on Gove’s intervention.

He said: “Michael Gove still continues to miss an obvious trick when it comes to getting more homes built within London.

“Yes, we can look to utilise more industrial land for housing, and squeeze greater density from the major residential schemes within the ‘opportunity areas’, but a significant number of new homes can be delivered across the capital by simply granting planning permission in principle for residential development on brownfield sites of less than 0.25ha and which provide policy compliant levels of affordable housing.

“Our research from last year highlighted that such a presumption could unlock up to 1200 sites in London alone, equivalent of 300 full football pitches – a point we strongly made when we contributed to the recent government-sponsored review of the London Plan which led to this intervention.”