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24.08.16

Sadiq Khan tells TfL to release land for affordable housing

Affordable housing must be built on the land by Kidbrooke station after Transport for London (TfL) sells it, the London mayor has told the transport body.

Sadiq Khan has issued a direction to TfL to ensure that, when it sells the land, at least 50% of any residential accommodation built on the site is used as affordable housing.

Under the Greater London Authority Act, TfL is obliged to act as if it is a private company when developing its land directly or through a subsidiary, and obtain the maximum return possible.

The affordable housing requirement will probably mean that the land is sold for less than the maximum prize, but the order says that it will be legal for TfL to do this.

Khan said: “Londoners are being priced out of their own city and we need to be honest that we’re not going to turn things round overnight. Last year my predecessor built fewer affordable homes than in any year since records began 25 years ago – fixing this is going to take time.

 “Getting homes built on public land can be hard,–but after being elected I set to work immediately to make sure we get building on more of the hundreds of sites owned by Transport for London, stretching right across the capital, that have been allowed to languish unused for far too long. This site in Kidbrooke will be the first of many we are fast-tracking to build genuinely affordable homes for Londoners.”

Khan has committed to ensuring that 50% of new housing built in London is affordable, compared to the 13% built in 2015 under his predecessor, Boris Johnson.

He is also discussing proposals to provide special affordable housing for NHS workers, and working with the government and boroughs to develop a tripartite agreement to tackle the capital’s housing crisis.

Recent research from the Resolution Foundation shows that home ownership in Greater London has fallen by 13.5 percentage points since its peak.

Greenwich borough, where Kidbrooke station is located, is suffering from rising rents and reductions in benefits and the amount of affordable housing being built.

The proposed redevelopment will include 400 residential homes, 5,000 square feet of commercial floor space, and open space.

Once a planning application is submitted, it will need to be assessed by an Affordable Housing Toolkit Appraisal.

If it is found to not be financially viable, the affordable housing target may need to be reduced, although Khan can release funding in order to mitigate this.

Cllr Keith Prince, the London Assembly transport spokesperson for the Conservatives, questioned the legality of the decision.

He said: “Selling TfL’s land with a massive 50% affordable housing requirement ensures it will be sold for well under market value. He should have checked if it was legal before promising this requirement, as all bodies have to achieve best value when selling public property. The Mayor should face facts and ditch this affordable housing requirement before he bankrupts TfL any further.”

Khan and TfL also promised to announce a new round of TfL-owned brownfield sites which will be developed for affordable housing in the autumn, generating up to 10,000 new homes.

Graeme Craig, TfL’s commercial development director, said: “Kidbrooke is the first of over a hundred sites that we are looking to develop to help us meet London’s critical need for housing. This is also one of a number of ways we’re generating substantial non-fare revenue to reinvest in modernising London’s network to make it better for everyone.”

Khan also announced yesterday that he will lead a 'Homes for Londoners' board, formed of London Boroughs, housing associations, and developers, which will oversee delivery, land assembly and investment decisions in order to improve the capital’s affordable housing.

Expert financial consultants and property surveyors are being recruited to support the project.

Baroness Jo Valentine, chief executive of London First, called the creation of Homes for Londoners “an important and encouraging step” and said it should have “a relentless focus on delivery”.

(Image c. Jonathan Brady from PA Wire and Press Association Images)

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