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Michael Gove tells Sadiq Khan: I’ll intervene if City Hall plan fails to deliver enough homes

Michael Gove has informed Sadiq Khan that he will step in if the City Hall plan fails to deliver an adequate number of homes. Gove announced his intention to collaborate with City Hall on a joint taskforce aiming to boost housing delivery in the capital. However, he also made it clear that he retains the right to use his powers to implement changes to the London Plan if it is hindering housing supply.

The government had initially proposed to enhance house-building efforts in three cities – London, Cambridge, and Leeds. However, due to opposition from Conservative MPs, they have scaled back their targets. In London, the government intends to stimulate a “housebuilding boom” with increased support for the development of up to 65,000 homes in a new cross-borough East London Development Project. This project encompasses areas like Thamesmead Waterfront and Beckton Riverside, and includes the construction of two new town centers and improved east-to-west transport connections.

Additionally, the government has allocated £1 billion to City Hall to enhance affordable housing and estate regeneration initiatives. They stressed that the London Plan aims to build 52,000 new homes per year, as only 30,000 were completed in the pandemic-affected year of 2021/22.

Critics of Gove’s intervention from City Hall argue that he is exhibiting unwarranted hypocrisy. They claim that the government has heavily relied on London’s housing success to fulfill their national targets and are using Sadiq Khan’s achievements as a cover for their failures on a larger scale. According to sources close to the Mayor, London has exceeded the affordable home building targets set by the government, constructing more homes than at any time since the 1930s, including a notable increase in council homes, which are being built at the highest rate since the 1970s. Their assertion is that Sadiq Khan is working towards creating a fairer, greener, and better London for all its residents.

City Hall sources also dispute the announcement of £1 billion, stating that it does not represent new funding, and that £6 million is yet to be confirmed for the extension of the DLR development work.

While Sadiq Khan managed to meet the target of starting 116,000 homes between 2016 and April 2023, it is worth noting that this includes over 7,000 homes started during Boris Johnson’s tenure as mayor. The primary issue in London lies not in the number of affordable homes initiated, but rather in the completion rate. On average, it takes two years from start to finish, and in the 2022/23 period, although 25,658 homes were commenced, only 13,954 were completed.

Meanwhile, Anthony Browne, the Conservative MP for South Cambridgeshire, expressed his determination to oppose the government’s plans to impose extensive housebuilding in Cambridge. Gove, on the other hand, announced plans to reduce red tape and allow for more conversions of shops and takeaways into homes. A review of permitted development rights is anticipated to simplify the process of extending homes and converting lofts. However, the Local Government Association has cautioned against loosening regulations, as it could result in substandard housing.

Lisa Nandy, the Labour Party’s shadow housing secretary, criticized the Tories for making additional promises regarding the housing crisis. She argued that under their governance, the crisis has worsened, with the rate of housebuilding on track to hit its lowest level since World War II due to Rishi Sunak’s capitulation to his own MPs’ demands.



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