New housing zones are to be created in London, creating 50,000 new homes, the UK government’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, and the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, revealed on Friday.
The new housing zones have been identified as part of the Mayor’s new draft Housing Strategy, which proposes a several innovative measures to boost housing supply in London get new homes built quickly and produce more low cost homes. The strategy is expected to help address the need for the 42,000 homes a year for the rising population in the UK’s capital city and includes other measures such as the London Housing Bank that will accelerate big schemes, the release of hundreds of acres of land owned by the GLA, and the building of 100,000 affordable homes.
The new strategy allows local authorities to identify and package together brownfield land which could be used for development into a housing zone, with the authority forming partnerships with developers to build new homes. It also removes all unnecessary planning restrictions on brownfield sites, which is expected to significantly accelerate construction.
In addition, housing zones are supported by central government support, which makes loans available to local authorities for necessary infrastructure and other remedial work on the site. The Mayor’s Housing Strategy set out plans last November for ten potential housing zones, which will now be doubled as a result of central government and the Greater London Authority (GLA), with each offering GBP200m for twenty zones. The government will grant the Mayor substantial powers, in the form of Mayoral Development Orders, to remove planning obstacles and ensure that developments in housing zones progress as quickly as possible.
Osborne and Johnson introduced the scheme at Meridian Water, an 85 hectare former industrial site in Enfield that has the potential for 5,000 new homes, new schools, a library and commercial space, linking to the nearby Lea Valley regional park.
The Chancellor said: “A key part of our long term economic plan is to build the houses Britain needs, so that families have the economic security that comes with home ownership. House building is at its highest since 2008 across London and England, but there is still a lot more to do to tackle the UK’s long term housing challenge.
“The new housing zones will be a shot in the arm for house building in London, creating tens of thousands of new homes for hardworking families across the capital”.
London’s Mayor added:
“Housing is the biggest challenge facing London’s economic development and these new GBP400 million housing zones will turbo boost housing supply across the capital. This major regeneration will transform communities and provide up to 50,000 much needed homes. They will support 250,000 Londoners into low cost home ownership over the next decade. ”
Several London boroughs have collaborated with the Mayor’s Office to test the concept of housing zones, including: Meridian Water in Enfield, Tottenham Hale in Haringey, Southall in Ealing, South Poplar in Tower Hamlets, Winstanley and York Road in Wandsworth.
Ten new housing zones will also be created outside London, which will be backed by up to GBP200m of central government loans for infrastructure and clean-up work on the sites.
Funding for housing zones will be allocated by competition and the Mayor has released a prospectus inviting bids from local authorities in London. The Department for Communities & Local Government will also publish a prospectus inviting bids from local authorities across the country later this year.