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Deliver 50,000 new affordable homes by 2011Housing waiting lists have nearly doubled over the last ten years, and around 54,000 households (three quarters of which have children) now live in temporary accommodation in London. At the same time, buying a home in the capital is increasingly unaffordable; despite falling house prices, the squeeze on mortgage is making access to home ownership even more difficult. To meet Londonersí needs and aspirations, the Mayor has an ambitious aim to deliver 50,000 affordable homes by 2011, in particular larger homes for families. Of these, 30,000 will be social rented homes, to reduce homelessness and overcrowding, and the remainder will be for low cost home ownership and renting.
Scrap the 50 per cent affordable housing target
The Mayor believes the 50 per cent affordable housing target is too rigid and has led to good proposals for development being refused, with the proportion of affordable housing having fallen to 34 per cent since the target was introduced. He will amend the London Plan to remove the restriction and, in the meantime, is agreeing individually negotiated borough housing investment targets – to help achieve his aim of delivering 50,000 affordable homes.
Develop a First Steps housing programme for first time buyers
Home ownership is beyond the reach of a growing number of Londoners, and many young professionals are frozen out of government low cost home ownership schemes. The Mayor will deliver more and better low cost home ownership. The new First Steps housing programme, which the Mayor launched in March 2009, will make more Londoners eligible for low cost home ownership. It will raise the top of the income range for low cost home ownership to the equivalent of the joint salary of two basic rate tax payers in London for people unable to buy on the open market; develop new products more suited to Londonís specific needs, including rent to buy; and improve information for customers.
Tackle severe overcrowding
Overcrowding has increased in all tenures between the 1991 and 2001 censuses. The greatest increase was in the social rented sector, which now has the highest level of overcrowding of any tenure.. The Mayor is firmly committed to tackling this growing and serious problem and has set a new target to halve severe overcrowding in social housing by 2016. This will be achieved by by increasing the supply of affordable homes, in particular family sized affordable homes; by better use of existing social rented stock; and by expanding the Seaside and Country Homes Scheme.
Improve the private rented sector
Private renting is the tenure of choice for many Londoners and the Mayor believes that, by attracting institutional investment, there is significant scope for the sector to be bigger and better. He is also committed to ensuring that it provides tenants with value for money and in 2009 launched the London Rents Map, enabling prospective tenants to see what the going rates are for private rented homes in any given postcode area in the capital. The Mayor also believes that more and better use should be made of the private rented sector to house homeless and vulnerable households.
Promote social mobility
Housing is about more than just bricks and mortar: it can be a powerful tool for giving people opportunities to improve their lives. The Mayor believes that his policies to help more people onto the housing ladder will significantly increase social mobility in the capital. He is also committed to giving social home seekers far greater control and choice about where they live, through increased opportunities and incentives for mobility, both across borough boundaries and into home ownership. Reducing the unacceptably high levels of unemployment among social tenants and homeless people is also a key concern for the Mayor.
Improve design quality, design standards and the design process
Though there are many examples of well designed and innovative housing schemes in London, many are shamefully poor. The Mayor wants new housing to be better designed, with better space standards and the adoption of Secured by Design principles to reduce anti-social behaviour and crime. A London Housing Design Guide will be produced, to ensure higher quality for all homes developed with public funding. Private developers will also be encouraged to adopt the standards set out in the Guide.
Deliver higher environmental standards for London’s new and existing homes and their surroundings
The capital’s 3.2 million homes account for 38 per cent of London’s total carbon emissions. To achieve his aim of reducing London’s carbon emissions by at least 60 per cent by 2025, the Mayor wants all new publicly funded homes to meet a minimum of Code for Sustainable Homes level 3, social rented homes to be improved beyond the Decent Homes standard and private home owners to be helped to improve their homes’ energy efficiency. He also believes that urban greening – trees, parks, open space and green roofs – should be used to improve the quality of neighbourhoods and the environment.
Target and deliver regeneration
While successful, strong and mixed communities thrive in much of the capital, there remain some areas characterised by deprivation and blighted by poor housing. Through the Homes and Communities Agency London Board, and funding from the Targeted Funding Stream, the Mayor is facilitating estate and area renewal, promoting the design of regeneration and renewal initiatives that create cohesive, mixed communities, deter criminal opportunism and demonstrate long term sustainability.
Reduce the number of empty homes
Empty homes are a waste of a valuable resource and can blight neighbourhoods. The Mayor wants the capital’s long term empty homes brought back into use, to provide affordable homes for Londoners. He has set a target that no more than one per cent of homes should stand empty and unused for over six months. A comprehensive audit will enable properties to be identified, so that they can be prioritised for action and resources. The Mayor believes the council tax rebate on empty homes encourages private owners to leave second homes unoccupied and will therefore exert pressure on councils to end council tax incentives on empty homes. £60 million from the Targeted Funding Stream is earmarked to bring empty homes back into residential use.
Deliver homes in a difficult market
While delivering the homes that London needs in today’s difficult market will be a significant challenge, the Mayor believes that it is achievable. Since the Homes and Communities Agency was established, on 1 December 2008, the Mayor has chaired its London board, overseeing housing investment of more than £5 billion over the next three years to deliver the aims of his London Housing Strategy. He has also established a positive new relationship with the boroughs, built on co-operation and partnership. Through the HCA, new investment models are being developed to tackle the impact of the credit crunch in London. The Mayor is also exploring new mechanisms for delivering homes, such as Community Land Trusts.
The Mayor is committed to ending rough sleeping in the capital. To achieve this aim, he is leading a new London Delivery Board bringing together the government, the London boroughs, the voluntary sector and other key stakeholders. The new Board is identifying the issues underlying rough sleeping, proposing solutions and working in partnership to achieve this ambitious aim.
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