The next Mayor must make sure the planning system is not undermined by some developers avoiding affordable homes in favour of bigger profits. In a letter to the Mayor, the cross-party Planning Committee, which I chair, expressed concern that the system is too easily manipulated to maximise developer profits.
The letter suggests that some developers are deliberately paying too much for land, to make providing affordable housing unviable, with several hiding behind confidential viability assessments. The Committee is also concerned some developers are overvaluing their costs and undervaluing the final scheme’s value.
A range of measures are recommended to ensure a more balanced, transparent and fair system – including:
- Measuring the value of land according to its existing value, rather than its potential value if developed into e.g. luxury flats
- Promoting the idea that developers should be open and transparent in publishing their deals
- Developing planners’ skills and setting an example on public land to challenge false assumptions that affordable housing is too costly to build.
Nicky Gavron AM, Chair of the London Assembly Planning Committee, said:
“The best developers see their contribution to affordable housing positively.
Disappointingly the Committee has heard real evidence that some developers are gaming the system, leading to an escalation of land values, resulting in rising rents and higher house prices.
If we’re to get out of the housing crisis, the next Mayor needs to show real leadership and encourage developers to build homes for Londoners of all walks of life.
Londoners are losing out.”