33,000 affordable homes ‘lost’ in London due to missed planning targets

33,000 affordable homes have been lost across London in two years due to missed planning targets, according to new research by London Assembly member, Sian Berry.

Her report, No-show homes, examines the potential for affordable homes in developments and what boroughs have actually secured over the past two years.

‘Affordable’ is defined in the current London Plan as being up to 80% of the market rent.

The current London Plan policy on affordable housing sets a target for 60% of new affordable homes to be offered at social rents.

The plan says that social housing should make up 24% of new developments. However, the report found that only 7,451 (less than 5%) new homes were offered at social rent, resulting in a shortfall of 29,241.

Sian Berry called the figures a ‘continual betrayal.’

‘In just two years people who could fill a small town are being deprived of the chance to rent a home they can afford,’ she said.

‘I found hundreds of no-show homes in every borough, promised by policy but replaced when developments are signed off by luxury flats no-one on a normal wage could possibly own.’

Tower Hamlets had the largest potential for affordable housing over the past two years, at 5,380 homes.

They achieved 23% affordable housing, but resulted in the highest total of missing homes over the past two years, at 2,281.

The report also looked at whether Mayor Khan’s new ‘fast track’ supplementary planning policy is starting to have an effect on the number of affordable homes being built.

This came into force in August 2017, and offers developers who agree to provide 35% affordable homes a route to planning permission that avoids viability assessments.

It found it hasn’t yet had any impact.

‘Every time developments that fail on affordability targets are signed off by councils, Londoners who need homes at reasonable rents lose out,’ said Ms Berry

‘The arguments about the housing crisis usually focus just on building more homes overall – but that isn’t the answer if what is being built ends up as luxury flats beyond reach for most Londoners.’

‘Where the most development is taking place, dropping below Mayor Johnson’s 40% target by even a few percent has a huge impact.

‘While his new London Plan is being developed, Mayor Khan must do more to put pressure on the areas handling larger numbers of planning applications, as these are where the most affordable homes are going missing.’

Read the report here.

Thomas Barrett

Journalist - follow him on Twitter

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