Blog: 21 September 2015Affordable Housing Delivery in London: an analysis

Justin Kenworthy

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Justin Kenworthy

Planning Director

London office

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With the London Mayoral Elections looming ever closer, our planning team in London have carried out a comparative analysis of affordable housing completion rates across London during both Ken Livingstone’s and Boris Johnson’s terms in office. The subsequent results are interesting…

As can be seen from our table below, GLA and DCLG statistics reveal that pan London affordable housing completions rates have fluctuated between 8,270 in 2000/01 to 17,914 in 2014/15. In addition, completions rates have typically fallen below, sometimes by a significant margin, the relevant affordable housing target in force at the time.

Under Ken Livingstone’s tenure as Mayor, a challenging affordable housing target ranging between 23,300 and 25,700 was set in the 2004 and 2008 versions of the London Plan. The available GLA and DCLG data on affordable housing completions illustrates that the delivery of affordable homes fell well below the applicable target during Ken Livingstone’s time in office.

The 2011 version of the London Plan that was adopted about three years after Boris Johnson came to power included a significantly lower affordable housing target. Whilst the relative difference between the adopted target and completion rates is unsurprisingly generally less marked during Boris Johnson’s time in office, it is nevertheless notable that there remains a frequent failure to meet the affordable housing target specified in the London Plan.

Another interesting trend is the annual average that is associated with the figures below is that Boris Johnson’s average annual affordable housing completion rate is about 2,600 higher than Ken Livingstone’s. Whilst political agendas are only part of the picture, with economic and government legislation also being important drivers, given the strong pro-affordable housing support offered by Ken Livingstone the average annual affordable housing delivery trend this is somewhat surprising, with the reverse potentially having been expected.

What does this therefore mean for Sadiq Khan? Many London Boroughs have specified relatively high affordable housing targets in their Local Plans, with numerous central London Authorities already targeting 50% affordable housing in new residential and mixed use developments. Historic trends, however, suggest that affordable and market housing delivery in London has been unable to keep pace with existing policy targets and objectively assessed housing needs. A step change in approach is therefore required from Mr Khan in order to address this disparity.

 

It should, however, be remembered that the delivery of affordable housing is only part of the problem. The London housing market is extremely complex with many competing factors influencing housing needs. The limited availability of market housing is, however, often responsible for driving up prices and making it unaffordable for Londoners to buy their own home. There is also a risk that imposing challenging affordable housing targets may threaten the viability of many projects, due to the more significant costs associated with redeveloping brownfield sites (including the Community Infrastructure Plan). If more punitive policy restrictions were to be imposed this could depress overall housing delivery and simply make the existing challenges in London more severe.

Pan London Affordable Housing Completions

 

Source: DCLG Affordable Housing Supply, Borough - http://s24.datapress.io/dataset/dclg-affordable-housing-supply-borough

* GLA Funded Completions only, based upon data contained in https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/Monthly%20-%20Affordable%20Housing%20Starts%20and%20Completions%20-%20end%20of%20August-2015%20.pdf

Parts of this blog feature in Planning Magazine's Article: What mayoral hopeful's target would mean for affordable homes in LondonFor more information on London's housing delivery, please contact Justin Kenworthy or Gary Stevens in our London Planning team.

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Affordable Housing, London, Mayor of London