Khan relaxes planning rules in bid to boost London housebuilding

Sadiq Khan has today outlined a plan to rip up the rule book on protecting local character to allow for higher-density housebuilding and increase capacity in the capital.

The mayor of London believes there is a need to strip away outdated construction constraints which are holding back the number of houses being built in the capital. In his new guidelines, planners should no longer reject applications to preserve the character of areas within 800 metres of transport hubs or town centres. Khan has estimated there is capacity for 24,500 homes a year on small sites throughout the capital, placing an extra emphasis on local authorities approving new housing applications in back gardens and upward extensions of existing houses, apartment blocks and shops. 

Outer London boroughs will be specifically targeted over the next decade with more than 250,000 homes to be built in 13 outer suburbs. It falls in line with Khan wanting more homes built on sites near town centres or good public transport, reducing the need for car parking spaces within developments.

Khan said: “With London’s population expected to increase by 70,000 every year, reaching 10.8 million in 2041, it’s vital we properly plan for growth with new affordable homes in every area of the capital. I am using all of the powers at my disposal in my first draft London Plan to tackle the housing crisis head on – removing ineffective constraints on homebuilders so that we can make the most of precious land in the capital to build more homes in areas with the best transport links.”

Despite the mayor in his latest plan asking homebuilders to maximise the use of valuable land in the city, Khan still expects councils to reject applications which do not meet design standards and do not set out how best to maximise housing density. There will also be proposals within the design standards for the minimum space standard for different sized dwellings.

Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of business group, London First, said: “London’s success comes from the people who live and work here and we’ve been failing to build the homes they need for too long. The mayor’s commitment to tackling our housing crisis is hugely welcome, but the London Plan must now deliver its part. By being smart about how and where we build, making better use of land and setting targets that councils can and must hit, the mayor will help open a door for the countless people priced out of a place to call home.”

Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders said: “Making better use of the many existing small sites that are scattered over the capital is essential if we are to build the number of new homes Londoners need. The London Plan’s moves to favour appropriate residential development on small sites is therefore a welcome initiative. It will also boost and strengthen the capacity of small and medium-sized house builders to build more new homes.”

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