As Mayor of London, Boris Johnson prepares to face stern competition for the top job, mayoral candidates went head-to-head at this week’s LandAid debate to discuss their plans for the London, in particular, its housing stock. Topics included affordable housing, the private rented sector (PRS), overseas investors and featured speakers from four of the UK’s main political parties.
Somewhat predictably, Labour representative, Sadiq Khan, and Tory, Zac Goldsmith, were at loggerheads over what constitutes an “affordable home”. While Goldsmith expressed ambitions to tackle the consistent pricing-out of “average”, £34k-earning Londoners, Khan went further and was keen to stress the need for a London Living Rent and a structured calculation for house prices.
Labour’s plans for Living Rent specific to London was the single policy dedicated to the rental sector. Delegates heard Khan provide details on the proposed rental rate which would be one third of average earnings in the area. The Conservatives, on the other hand, devoted attention to the housing crisis and suggested that the government needed to open more publicly-owned sites up for development. Goldsmith also added that transport infrastructure would have to be upgraded in line with any new development projects so as to join areas with the centre of the city.
Caroline Pidgeon for the Liberal Democrats raised questions about foreign investment strategies, and insisted that overseas businesses ought to be taxed at a higher rate to discourage over-investment.
In Green Party candidate, Sian Berry’s absence, Darren Johnson stood in to outline her plans for a not-for-profit company to shoulder all new development. The body would prioritise local and smaller developers in the hope to build affordable homes that were fit for purporse and beneficial to the local economy.
All parties committed to building 50,000 new homes in the capital though they were hesistant to disclose just where they’ll find the land to do so.
The LandAid debate was sponsored by Savills and attended by 350 representatives from some the UK’s largest contractors and property management companies.