In a historic mayoral election, Labour’s Sadiq Khan won the day, beating Zac Goldsmith and a host of other candidates to become Mayor of London. It is historic for a number of reasons, firstly as it ends eight years of Tory rule in London under former mayor Boris Johnson.
Khan ran a positive campaign in which housing was one of his key issues. So what can we expect from his time as mayor and how might it impact London’s housing market?
Khan’s campaign focused heavily on the London housing ‘crisis’ and in building new homes that are affordable for ordinary Londoners. His target of 80,000 new homes a year seems ambitious. Some critics have even called it unrealistic. Yet there is a very clear commitment to building new homes in the capital. Will he be able to pull it off?
As part of his plans, Khan intends to use public land owned by public bodies such as Transport for London. That should free up some land, but nowhere near enough to meet his lofty building targets. Setting up a New Homes Team in City Hall should bring the issue front and centre of his time as mayor, and he will be looking to work with local boroughs to identify brownfield sites throughout the capital that can be developed on.
Rumours have spread in the media that Sadiq Khan is lining up Islington council’s housing chief James Murray as deputy mayor for policy and planning. That would fit with Khan’s proposed policy that all new developments contain 50% affordable housing. In Islington Murray has aimed for similar approaches, but one criticism has been that it has slowed development down in the borough, and dissuades a lot of developers from operating as it makes some projects unaffordable. Any slowdown in development in the capital is going to make Khan’s 80,000 new houses target impossible.
Affordability was a central theme of Khan’s campaign, and as part of that he wants to introduce a London Living Rent, meaning some rents would be capped at a third of average incomes. To help this become a reality he intends to set up a city wide not-for-profit letting agency. It is unclear whether the not-for-profit agency would deal with students as well, but if it did that would have profound consequences for the capital’s student property market.
Khan’s plans are ambitious and some are radical. His aim is to change the face of the London property market and to make it work for ordinary Londoners, only time will tell whether he is able to do so.