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Jenrick praised for attacking London mayor’s housebuilding record

Developer says housing minister was right to criticise mayor but says both parties must now come together to find a solution.

Richard Reed

Housing minister Robert Jenrick has been praised for his outspoken attack on London mayor Sadiq Khan for failing to meet the capital’s housebuilding needs.

Andrew Southern, Chairman of property developer Southern Grove, says Mr Jenrick was right to lambaste the mayor for his dismal record.

The comments follow the publication of a letter sent by the minister to Mr Khan, in which he said housing delivery in London under his mayoralty had been “deeply disappointing”.

Mr Jenrick said: “Over the last three years housing delivery has averaged just 37,000 a year, falling short of the existing plan target and well below your assessment of housing need.

“Over the same period, other mayors such as in the West Midlands have gripped their local need for housing and recognised the opportunities this brings, leading to significant increases in the delivery of homes.

Worsening affordability

“Since you became Mayor, the price of an average new-build home in London has increased by around £45,000, reaching £515,000 in 2018, 14 times average earnings.

Sadiq Khan image“Clearly, the housing delivery shortfall you have overseen has led to worsening affordability for Londoners – and things are not improving, with housing starts falling a further 28% last year compared to the previous.”

Andrew Southern said: “This is a savage attack on Sadiq Khan by a minister clearly intent on calling the Mayor to order on housing.

“The housing crisis isn’t going away and the gloves have clearly come off in Downing St.

“Housebuilding in the capital is still far too low, and Mr Khan’s ability to provide affordable housing has been found wanting in the latest statistics, which show London is on course see a slowdown in completions this year.”

‘Politicians must work together’

However, Mr Southern added a cautionary note: “What the industry, and Londoners, want now, though, is for politicians in central and devolved government singing from the same hymn sheet. The housing crisis is too big a problem not to be a cross-party issue.”

The housing minister hasnow exercised his powers under the Greater London Authority Act 1999 to prevent the mayor from publishing the London Plan – which sets out how to address housing need – until the government’s concerns have been addressed.

The government is demanding that Mr Khan:

  • Supports ambitious boroughs to go beyond Plan targets to bring them closer to delivering housing demand;
  • A programme of work, in conjunction with the ministry for housing, to kick-start stalled strategic sites;
  • Collaborating with public agencies to identify new sources of housing supply, including developing a more active role for Homes England;
  • Actively encouraging appropriate density, including optimising new capacity above and around stations;
  • Producing and delivering a new strategy with authorities in the wider South-East to offset unmet housing need in a joined-up way.

 

March 16, 2020

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