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London Mayor Relaxes Planning Laws To Boost House Building
Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, has announced his very first London Plan, saying that he wants to see more tower blocks, more affordable housing and higher-density housing – detailing proposals that will change current planning laws so that more houses can be built in smaller spaces.
According to the BBC, the draft plan – which details his vision for the capital over the next 25 years – covers numerous aspects of city life, including housing. His target is to build 65,000 houses each year, with half of these to be affordable. Furthermore, building applications for green belt land will be rejected unless specific conditions are met and developments will also have to achieve the highest standards possible for fire safety.
Mr Khan explained that his proposals would help to tackle the housing crisis by making the “most out of precious land in the capital”, but Conservatives have accused him of declaring war on suburban London.
Andrew Boff, Conservative London Assembly member, said his whole approach “signals a downgrading in the quality of the capital’s housing” and will leave outer London more difficult to navigate, more overcrowded and browner.
BBC London political editor Tim Donovan said: “Let’s face it, few people will ever set eyes on the London Plan, let alone leaf through any of its 500 pages, but it’s arguably the most important strategic responsibility the mayor has.
“That’s because it sets clear expectations – backed by legal and planning powers – for how the capital can be shaped to meet the demands of a population expected to top 10 million before too long.
“From green belt to gardens, toilets to takeaways, pubs to parking spaces, City Hall sends strong signals to developers, borough councils and local communities on what is and isn’t acceptable.”
According to the Guardian, 650,000 homes are expected to be built across the capital come the year 2020, with more than 250,000 springing up in the suburbs. In Barnet, for example, 31,340 housing completions are expected between 2019-20 and 2028-209. And Newham and Tower Hamlets have been given the highest targets, with demands for 38,500 and 35,110 properties respectively. Croydon, meanwhile, will be targeting 29,490 net completions.
Civic societies may well criticise the plans put forward by the mayor, because planners are now being advised that they should no longer reject applications so as to preserve the character of parts of the city that are within 800m of town centres or transport hubs.
What’s more, developments may well be preferred if they take place on empty lots and gardens as long as there is no net loss of green spaces, because these can be achieved through steps like planting trees on streets or building green roofs.
It’s also hoped that the plans will encourage smaller companies to take greater hold on the market by making it easier to develop smaller sites that are more affordable.
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