For much of the late 20th century, London’s population was in free-fall – from a high of 8.6 million in 1939, down to about 6.6 million by the early eighties. Now in reverse, the population is increasing and increasing and likely to hit 10 million by 2030, and could reach 13 million by the middle of the century.
What this means, is a housing shortage.
With 100,000 people a year coming to London we need 50,000 new homes. What is alarming is that we are only building half this number. Average house prices in the capital are at £600,000 and the average rent is £1,400 a month and this is starting to weigh heavy on the population at large. In short there is a lack of affordable homes. So what is new mayor Sadiq Khan proposing we do?
For a start Khan wants to give Londoners first dibs on any new homes built, to make sure they don’t just get snapped up by foreign investors. This is a welcomed move, but some worry that it’s not the case to start with that a vast number of homes go to foreign investors. Many are bought by locals and rented to locals. The plan becomes further difficult to implement when you consider that developers say that making it harder to sell to investors would mean they built fewer flats.
Khan, has also proposed rent controls. This is also great in theory, except for a small detail. Yes, rents are out of control in London and most of a persons salary goes on them, but mayors cannot effectively change this. To start capping rent would require legislative intervention from the UK government and considering the fact the current administration is conservative, this is unlikely to happen.
Sadiq Khan has also promised to increase the rate of house building in London to the 50,000 he has suggested doing this by building houses on land owned by TfL this would be difficult however given that much of these areas are going to be built on by the rail network its self, to increase connectivity for commuters. There is the option of course of building on green belt. Currently one 5th of London is green belt, so this my work, however Khan does not support the idea of destroying green spaces.
The new mayo faces much in the way of challenges to solve the London housing crisis. What is clear however is that he has a clear mandate to implement all of his ideas.
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