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Mayor of London issues planning guidance in bid to boost affordable housing

London mayor Sadiq Khan has set new planning rules intended to speed up construction of affordable homes in the capital.

He has also said how the £3.15bn awarded to London in last week’s Autumn Statement will be used to help deliver 90,000 homes.

Khan said national rules on affordable housing investment had not permitted investment for low-cost rented housing below the 80% of market rent level deemed ‘affordable’ under legislation passed by the Coalition.

But he had successfully negotiated with ministers so that this restriction would be lifted.

He said the 90,000 homes would therefore be a mix of low-cost rent, shared ownership and those charged at the London Living Rent, which is based on a third of average household incomes in each borough.

Most homes will be delivered by housing associations, who will be required to include at least 50% affordable housing in their plans.

The mayor has also launched new planning guidance to speed up decisions and increase the provision of affordable housing.

His Supplementary Planning Guidance is intended to raise affordable housing from the 13% of new homes level he said he inherited from his Conservative predecessor Boris Johnson.

The guidance set out how viability will be assessed to calculate a development's affordable housing contribution. It also removes the need for negotiations on viability if a proposal includes 35% affordable housing and supports 'build to rent' developments. 

Khan said: “London is in the midst of a housing crisis, with thousands of Londoners priced out of a city they call home.

“The record-breaking investment I have agreed with government means we can start building a range of different affordable homes to suit Londoners’ needs. Together with my new planning guidance, we can begin to boost the number of homes built in London and move towards a long-term strategic goal of half of all new homes being genuinely affordable.”

John Dickie, director of policy and strategy at business group London First, said: “Giving greater clarity and guidance to housebuilders is a welcome step as we work towards a dramatic increase in housing and start building the 50,000 new homes London needs each year.” 

David Montague, chair of G15, which represents London’s largest housing associations, also welcomed the mayor’s new policies.

“The mayor has secured the very best deal for Londoners,” he said. “He has listened to housing associations and given us the flexibility we asked for. Now we must get on with the job of building the homes that London needs”.

Mark Smulian

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