It seems strange for me to remind a conservative Mayor of London about the power of the market – but someone has to do it. Today Boris Johnson appealed to developers to sign his Mayoral Concordat and to sell their homes to Londoners first.
I have to remind him that “the market” will immediately doom his proposed solution to the housing crisis. Developers are in business to make money – and they are not going to resist gazumping oligarchs pushing locals aside and waving chequebooks.
Whilst I’m glad that he’s woken up to the dangers of foreign investors inflating the housing market and pricing Londoners out (a danger our Fairness Commission flagged when it launched its report in November) his proposed solution will do nothing to provide more homes for Londoners.
Instead of paper promises, we need the Mayor of London to support boroughs to deliver more affordable homes.
We in Tower Hamlets are already on course to deliver 4,000 affordable homes and our London Plan target is the highest in London. However these homes will not meet local needs unless they are truly affordable.
This week I, and eight other London Boroughs, are bringing a High Court challenge against the Mayor of London, in a bid to protect genuinely affordable rents for local people.
For many years, boroughs have been able to ensure new affordable housing is provided at rents local people can afford. Typically, in inner London that is 30-40 per cent of market levels.
However, the Mayor is seeking to impose ‘affordable’ rents in new housing of up to 80 per cent of the market rate, refusing to allow boroughs to negotiate lower rents that local people can afford.
Unless he revokes policies like these, his concordat will just paper over the cracks in our housing policy and condemn generations of Londoners to expensive and overcrowded accommodation whose market rents will be determined by cash-flush speculators from home and abroad.