Alan Benson is responsible for housing policy at the Greater London Authority, in charge of its Housing Policy Unit. We talked to him about the new mayor’s plans for the capital, viability and his favourite bridge
The London Plan needs 50,000 new homes a year to meet housing need. How is Sadiq Khan going to achieve that?
Sadiq Khan did not actually commit to a 50,000 target in his manifesto – that was Zac Goldsmith. But he is committed to increasing housing supply and is especially keen to increase affordable housing delivery, towards his long term aim that 50% of all new homes should be affordable. This is alongside a commitment to being clear on the definition of what is genuinely ‘affordable’ housing in the capital.
But last year fewer than 4900 affordable homes were delivered
Nothing is settled yet but put simply we’re thinking that we can’t write new policy ahead of a new London Plan so we must be tougher on viability. If developers achieve 50% or more we’d ask for no viability information. At a threshold (say 35%) we’d be very light touch; if they can’t meet that, we’d insist on open publication of all viability information, which would be scrutinised by an expert viability team at City Hall and every armchair auditor in London and beyond. We’re looking to publish new supplementary planning guidance addressing such issues around October or November.
And what about the ‘Homes for Londoners’ team?
We already have a governing board to drive housing delivery, which will be chaired by Sadiq Khan and includes the deputy mayor for housing, TfL representatives , council leaders, housing associations and private sector representatives.
There’s been a lot of bridge talk recently. Nine Elms, illuminated and garden bridges. Where would you want one and what’s your favourite?