Khan pledges to create a City Hall-owned housing developer

Similar plans were proposed last week by Khan’s Liberal Democrat rival Rob Blackie, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

Sadiq Khan has confirmed that he will create a City Hall-owned housing developer if he is re-elected for an historic third term.

The aim would be to ensure that housing schemes are brought forward on plots of land where private developers and local authorities have been unable to get homes started.

A recommendation for the mayor to create such a body was made by the late Lord Kerslake in a review published in 2022.

Lord Kerslake said the new body could be created in two phases, with the first phase being the expansion and strengthening of City Hall’s existing housing delivery mechanisms.

Khan confirmed that the second phase – which will see the creation of the new developer – will take place in the next mayoral term, if he is re-elected in May.

The Labour mayor said that his deputy for housing, Tom Copley, has been “obsessed” with bringing the plans to life.

“The sorts of things we’re looking at is where there’s a gap, where a council or a housing association or a developer may not take forward a scheme that maybe City Hall can take forward,” said Khan.

“What we don’t want to do is become a developer for the sake of doing it – it’s about adding value, and if we can add value, we’ll definitely do it [intervene at key housing sites].”

He added: “Imagine if there’s a piece of land that’s owned by one GLA [Greater London Authority] functional body [such as Transport for London], another owned by another part [of the GLA], or the local authority, or a private developer.

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“Working together, we can make some real progress – where at the moment there might be sort of a ‘turf war’ taking place. We’re a trusted friend, a trusted ally, who can rise above some of the potential tensions that can exist.”

Similar plans were proposed last week by Khan’s Liberal Democrat rival Rob Blackie, who said such a body would “fill in the gaps” left by the private market, with a particular focus on publicly-owned land and setting conditions to prioritise homes for key workers.

Tory candidate Susan Hall has not made her position clear on whether she would take forward Lord Kerslake’s recommendation. Her campaign team has been approached for comment.

Hall has said on housing that she wants to “stop Sadiq Khan’s inappropriate tower blocks” and instead “build family homes”. She has promised to relaunch the London Land Commission, to identify brownfield sites where more homes can be built.

Green candidate Zoe Garbett said she would also follow Lord Kerslake’s recommendation, but would have certain conditions set in relation to affordability and environmental impact.

She said: “This is using public money, so the homes must benefit Londoners and I would want to see at least half of what this developer builds being genuinely affordable homes. And these new homes must be built to the highest environmental standards which will mean energy bills are affordable for residents in the future.”

The London mayoral election is on Thursday, 2nd May, along with elections to the London Assembly.

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