M18 Housing Strategy 6 Feb

Warning: Just Space and UCL are trying to make available some sort of record of what happens in the EiP for the benefit of community members. Notes are being taken by postgraduate students and checked/edited so far as possible by more experienced staff and others. Neither Just Space nor UCL offers any guarantee of the accuracy of these notes. If you wish to depend on what was said at the EiP you should check with the speaker or with the audio recordings being made by the GLA. If you spot mistakes in these notes please help us to correct them by emailing m.edwards at ucl.ac.uk
For this day we had no note-taker so would especially value corrections and comments from those who were present.

These were the panel’s questions:  M18  Will the housing policies achieve the good growth objectives in Policies GG1, GG2, GG3 and GG4 relating to building strong and healthy communities, making the best use of land, creating a healthy city and delivering the homes Londoners need? In particular how will the provisions of GG4E regarding ambitious and achievable build-out rates be put into effect? Will the provisions of Policy H1 B-F provide an effective strategic context for the preparation of local plans and neighbourhood plans?

(pieced together from tweets and emails)

London Tenants Federation LTF: seven things the London Mayor should do about the need for social rented homes The Mayor’s office said at the examination 06.02.19 that lack of funding prevents delivery of the SR homes needed in London. Of course, we encourage him to lobby Government on this, but …..
Screen Shot 2019-02-07 at 21.11.15

Halfords had a seat at the EiP session on Housing Strategy. They were objecting to Policy H1 B2b which lists retail parks.  Their written statement is here.
The Inspector was very interested in what Halfords had to say and gave them the floor for 10 minutes. They talked about losing sites due to residential dominance, how town centres need retail parks and H1 should link more closely to the town centre policy SD8, how retail is being lost in central and inner London, need robust tests/mechanisms and engagement with existing businesses to demonstrate replacement floorspace is fit for purpose (sometimes they are only offered one tenth of existing floorspace), retail warehouse sector being lost.
The Inspectors’ questions – Retail parks are a possible source of housing capacity so is it as bad as you are making out?  and Why does this loss matter in a planning sense? These were both very helpful.
[The last bit of the day was captured by volunteer Lyuboslav Petrov and his notes follow.]

Ballymore group – There should be an understanding of the need for delivery. 60% of targets are going to be delivered on large sites – these are complex. The incentivisation has to be realistic. There are other matters which have an issue for implementation – the planning process in London is complex – conditions are a significant issue for them. In terms of part E, they don’t know what “ambitious” really means – realistic and achievable is better. There should be particular trigger points – targets should be achieved within a certain time frame through a collaborative approach.

HBF: Planning policy in London is complex – length of time for getting a planning permission and discharging conditions is a lengthy process – it can take up to 2 years. This is a local matter. A matter for a dialogue between а developer andаlocal planning authority. Some authorities struggle with policies and local plans.

London First: They welcome the opening GLA comments – a range of interventions, they are making for diversity of the providers for building more homes in London. Their concern is with the language used in GG4E – lacks context – don’t refer to setting rates – a report encourages the diversity of the provider – but when looked in isolation, GG4 does not provide this point. Thus, a realistic approach is needed. Also, a clarification of a diversity of who is building is needed – GG4 needs to make a reference on that.

London Forum: GLA have been emphasising the need for market housing and affordable homes – that’s often not the right kind of affordable homes. Government insists that intervention by mayor through government money prioritises intermediate housing. Quotes Jennifer Peters earlier in the EiP: “80% of what is built is affordable to 8% of Londoners”. They are pleased to hear that there are funds for site acquisition – but what about the ability of boroughs to build social housing – it is suppressed. The more housebuilders build market homes, the more we are increasing the stock of homes above the price levels needed by Londoners!

Assembly Planning committee: The overall target and borough targets are ambitious. One measure they really welcome is the 35% mechanism threshold – they believe it drives up the level of affordable housing. The 2 year viability review mechanism will speed up things further. They also agree with mixed affordable housing. Some of the other matters – government funding is vital and we need a reform on compulsory purchase powers – not yet implemented. What needs more focus is modular housing – there should be a policy, cross referenced by GG4, and that is not taken forward.

London Forum: 60% of what we need will come from large sites. Mayor has declared site allocations – they are called opportunity areas. But what can they deliver? What about local plans? Unless opportunity areas are revisited carefully and in detail, how it can be known what can be delivered? Figures are aspirations. What the massive contribution will actually mean? The opportunity areas are so significant – mayor can intervene and stop the wrong things being delivered in them.

HBF warmly welcomes small sites policies, but the complexity of planning policy environment is there. GLA needs to be careful. One other point also needs emphasis – true concern for safety and performance.

Inspector: 3 things need discussion: First, the whole issue about diversity of provider, second – the incentivisation problem, third – modular housing.

GLA: Both targets and diversification are needed – housebuilders – they need some clear incentives that this is built quickly. Incentivize – there are issues with shorter planning permissions. Good example is the threshold approach. That acts as an incentive.

Inspector: Modular housing?

GLA: Modular – quality and safety concerns and whether is a panacea or not. One of the benefits of modular housing – it can control quality. They say they need to take it slowly and avoid mistakes in the past (e.g. government picking a winner).

Inspector: affordable housing points will come again at another day.

Session closed.