Housing in London – Final Roundtable and Report Launch

On October 12th we hosted our final event of our year-long project, Housing in London: Addressing the Supply Crisis. We provided an opportunity for different stakeholders ranging from academics, local politicians, developers, planners, and other representatives from the private and public sector to discuss the recommendations from our final report. Other points of conversation were ways in which we could the debate forward, particularly in light of government announcements and the upcoming Mayoral election.

The full report can be accessed here.

You can read the executive summary here.

Here are a couple of summary tables from both documents:

Table 1 – Fundamental Challenges Impacting Supply:

Challenges The Issues Main Barriers
Institutional Challenges ·     Planned development either never happens or takes a long time

·     Political objections to development may accurately reflect voter preferences.

·     Staff and resource shortages in planning departments

·     Lack of institutional memory within local authorities

·     Limited partnership-working between boroughs

·     Nimbyism

·     Emphasis on trading rather than production of housing

Procedural Challenges ·     Developable land is in multiple ownership

·     Developers too conservative in their applications

·     Securing planning permission is costly in terms of resources and time

·     Uncertainty about planning obligations increases risk

·     Individual determination of planning obligations on each site

·     Protracted and costly viability negotiations

·     Asymmetry of expertise between developers and local authorities

·     Difficulties in land assembly when ownership pattern is complex

Fundamental Resource Challenges

 

·     Land not coming forward

·     Land is inefficiently developed

·     Infrastructure is not in place

·     Construction industry lacks capacity

·     Finance is unavailable

·     Housing produced is unaffordable

·     High land values lead to expectations of continued increases

·     Planning densities too low in some areas

·     Land supply constraints

·     Construction market excludes smaller companies

·     Lenders reluctant to provide development finance, especially to SMEs

Recommendations:

Make planning more predictable Make land more available
·       Introduce more Housing Zones ― and monitor and modify effectively

·       Introduce more transparent and consistent targets for affordable housing and infrastructure ― move towards tariffs and away from negotiation

·       Increase cross-borough networking, particularly around strategies for alternative housing

·       Develop coherent policies on change of use through devolved powers to the GLA

·       Encourage partnership arrangements involving public landowners, local authorities and developers

·       Identify defined parcels of accessible green belt land for residential development that is not necessary for environmental sustainability

·       Clarify and improve CPO powers and procedures to enable more effective and quicker land assembly

·       Encourage a leadership role for the GLA and the London Land Commission in bringing land as far as the construction stage

Speed up processes Expand construction capacity
•       Increase resources for local authority planning departments by more positive planning fee structures

•       Enable the GLA to provide templates to support partnerships and resources for over-stretched local authority departments

•       Rationalise viability assessments ― again requiring GLA devolved powers

•       Increase build out rates by parcelling out sites to increase the number of developers and encourage a wider range of dwelling types

•       Ensure more effective planning gain ‘clawback’ as prices increase, at the same time structuring planning gain payments to make quicker development more worthwhile

•       Encourage public landowners to take an equity stake in partnership arrangements aimed at ensuring appropriate timing and funding infrastructure arrangements

•       Establish more revolving infrastructure funds

•                Provide smaller sites for small developers

•                Restructure government development finance programmes to make accessible to SMEs (again requires devolved powers)

•                Encourage international developers with experience in rapid rates into the London market

•                Place greater emphasis on commissioning in partnership with developers in addition to speculative building

•                Support housing associations to play a larger role in mixed tenure development including greater emphasis on intermediate tenures

•                Identify in far more detail why the largest sites are not contributing adequately ― only when they do so can output, particularly in central London, increase significantly

Lobby Central Government
·       To restructure current GLA powers to enable a more strategic approach

·       To devolve further powers to GLA

·       To make CPO powers more effective

·       To make policy initiatives, notably Help to Buy and development finance more London friendly

 

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