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Tripartite agreement floated to tackle London’s housing crisis

Progress is being made on a tripartite agreement between the government, the new mayor of London and the capital’s boroughs as an attempt to tackle the city’s housing crisis, according to a new report from London Councils.

In a Housing paper to be presented to the organisation’s Leaders’ Committee this week, it was noted that the mayor of Lewisham, Sir Steve Bullock, and Cllr Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth Council, have been involved in dialogue with the new deputy mayor for housing James Murray and the communities secretary Greg Clark MP.

Recent discussions have taken place within party groups and a tripartite headline agreement has been floated, potentially involving government, the mayor and boroughs to tackle the housing crisis.

This agreement, according to London Councils, may take the form of a two-stage agreement which could present opportunities for boroughs to “secure some of the flexibilities around housing and planning which were articulated in the earlier London Housing Proposition”.

Mayor Bullock added that it is likely the first stage is to be “agreed over the next few weeks and detailed work over the summer”. He expected that he and Cllr Govindia would be in the room when agreement was reached and that they would be able to endorse the deal, but could not commit every borough to it.

It was also noted that taking forward any possible headline agreement, especially with regards to implementation, raises the issue of the potential need for improvements to governance and arrangements for closer engagement with the mayor’s team on housing and planning policy development and delivery.

In a meeting in late June, Cllr Govindia and mayor Bullock said that the secretary of state was “keen” to achieve a three-way deal involving a “commitment to significant increases in the supply of housing”.

Cllr Claire Kober, leader of Haringey Council, also suggested that boroughs needed collectively to be part of an initial tripartite agreement in order to demonstrate commitment. However, mayor Bullock concluded that in the two-stage approach there may be boroughs that “would never sign up to the second stage and they would have to deal with the consequences”.

As well as discussions on the tripartite agreement, it was noted that the chief executive-led Housing Devolution Group has convened in support of London Councils’ work on devolution and public service reform. They have also started looking at a more detailed consideration of how a voluntary collaborative housing delivery vehicle could add value to the work of individual London boroughs.

Earlier this year, Lord Kerslake said that tackling the capital’s housing crisis will require co-operation across all levels of government and a coherent devolution deal. And last month, new mayor Sadiq Khan said he will review the capital’s housing zone scheme to try to increase the availability of affordable housing.

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