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London councils could build 37,000 new homes

London’s boroughs could deliver 37,300 homes over the next five years if they were given more money and powers, according to a new report.

The report published today by think tank Centre for London, entitled Borough Builders found that 22 local authorities in the capital have started to build again, but a lack of finance and expertise are holding them back their efforts.

Researchers found schemes are already in place to deliver 23,600 homes – close to 8% of the target for London boroughs over the next five years.

In comparison, London councils delivered 2,100 homes between 2011-2018, so this represents a significant step change in activity.

But the report suggests if every one of London’s 32 boroughs committed to delivering a minimum of 10% of their draft new London Plan target (either directly or through a wholly-owned company), a total of 37,300 homes could be delivered across the next five years, representing 12% of London’s housing target overall.

The report also highlights the challenges that prevent councils from increasing their housing delivery.

These include constraints on borrowing capacity, intra-council barriers and lack of political support, as well as planning and development issues that are also exacerbated by a lack of internal capacity and expertise.

Other organisations, such as the Local Government Association, have also called for the Government to relax the rules on borrowing to allow them to build more homes.

The report calls on the Government to relax the conditions attached to various funding streams and recognise the key role that councils can play in delivering more housing and recommends the Mayor should use his funding powers to support the development of partnerships between boroughs at a sub-regional level.

‘Boroughs are already making a significant contribution towards achieving the aims of the draft New London Plan on small sites, densification and placemaking,’ said research manager, Victoria Pinoncely.

‘But if every borough were involved or did more, it could represent a real step change in new housing delivery.

‘As it stands, they have one hand behind their backs. Restricted access to funding, underfunded planning departments and weak political support for schemes hampers their ability to deliver the homes the London desperately needs,’ added Ms Pinoncley.

‘These barriers need to be removed if we’re to realise the full potential of borough builders and meet the mayor’s ambitious housing targets.’

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