Urban Exposure announces the launch of a series of policy proposals to help boost the housing market in London.
The proposals together form Urban Exposure’s London Plan Housing Manifesto, which the group has begun discussing with local policy makers ahead of the launch of the London Strategy on housing due at the end of the Autumn.
The full London Plan Housing Manifesto is detailed below.
Commenting on the launch of Urban Exposure’s London Plan Housing Manifesto, Randeesh Sandhu, Chief Executive of Urban Exposure, said:
“It is well known that the capital faces an ever-increasing housing shortage as its population continues to swell much faster than the pace of new home building. Between 1997 and 2016, London’s population increased by a quarter – an extra 1.7 million people – but only 370,000 homes were added to the stock.
“London needs 37,000 more new homes each year, but there are still plenty of obstacles to overcome to enable local developers to fill this void. Our London Plan Housing Manifesto seeks to address some of these key issues.
“Creating a more diverse and resilient housebuilding market in London is crucial to increasing the number of homes built each year. That means greater diversity in the size and type of developers building the homes the region needs. It also requires a wider selection of lenders who can bring alternative expertise and commercial perspectives to make both large and small schemes potentially more viable.
“Large housing schemes remain an important part of the solution to the housing needs of the capital. But it is the smaller developers and schemes that are currently under-represented. So we are calling on the relevant Central departments responsible for housing and local boroughs to hone their focus on supporting these smaller builders, whether through making it easier for them to access the finance they need, or ensuring the potential of this part of the sector is recognised in Local Plans.
“There is a lot more London can get out of the private development community and we believe that the proposals we outline in this Manifesto will help deliver the homes which people in the region need.”
Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders, who have worked with Urban Exposure on their London Plan Housing Manifesto, said:
“We will always struggle to build the homes we need unless we can build a stronger locally-based house building sector. The numbers of small developers in operation have fallen by more than half since before the financial crisis in 2007 and this represents a very real loss of house building capacity in this county.”
“Local authorities and combined authorities could play a key role in helping to reverse this decline, and by doing so they will boost the delivery of new homes in their area and support locally-based growth and the creation of skilled jobs. The ideas put forward by Urban Exposure can help in just the ways that smaller scale builders need – improving access to finance, boosting opportunities for smaller scale development and strengthening the links between local and regional government and locally-based housed builders.
London Plan Housing Manifesto
DELIVERING MORE HOMES FOR LONDONERS: POLICY PROPOSALS FROM URBAN EXPOSURE
Helping developers, in particular smaller developers, access finance
54% of respondents to the 2017 FMB House Builders Survey identified lack of finance as a barrier to increasing output
- Establish a panel of non-bank lenders to be incorporated into the portal used by small developers through the Small Sites Small Builders Programme, allowing developers wishing to build on TfL sites included in the Programme to easily identify sources of finance, including organisations providing innovative forms of debt finance.
- The GLA should work with the Government to develop a guarantee for private development finance made available to small developers building on sites which meet or exceed the Mayor’s target for affordable housing provision, helping smaller developers unlock additional, lower-cost, private sector finance. GLA funding for this guarantee could come from the Affordable Housing Fund.
Ensuring that housing projects are completed on time
Half of UK housing projects are not delivered to time, according to the 2016 UK Construction Industry Performance Report
- To ensure that the impact of project delays on the delivery of housing is minimised, the GLA should issue guidance stating that, for developments on public land, the lender supporting the project can step in and complete the project should delivery targets agreed in advance not be met by the original developer.
Getting smaller developers building more quickly
“Delays and financial costs associated with gaining planning permission are particularly problematic for SMEs” (London Housing Strategy, Draft for Public Consultation, September 2017)
- Encourage London boroughs to introduce as a matter of course memoranda of understanding between themselves and the relevant developer for each planning application, setting out how their application will be treated at each stage of the process.
Creating a more diverse housing market throughout London
Fewer than one in eight new homes were being built by smaller companies in 2015, down from almost two in five in 1990 (HBF, Reversing the decline of small housebuilders, 2017)
- The GLA should work with London boroughs to ensure that their Local Plans include a commitment to supporting smaller house builders and developers.