NFB: The London Mayor must fix planning as well as affordable housing contributions

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has announced a new Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) for London which aims to deliver faster planning permissions by bypassing burdensome viability assessments. In order to qualify, developers must deliver a minimum of 35 per cent affordable housing on non-publicly funded land and 50 per cent on public owned land.

Developments will need to begin within two years and failure to meet any expectations will result in financial modelling scrutiny. Developments that do not meet the minimum affordable thresholds will also face further scrutiny as they near completion – with financial details in the application being published online for public viewing. Any unexpected profits will be reinvested into more affordable housing.

Mayor Khan said:

“This investment will work hand-in-hand with the new approach for developers that I’m introducing today, which will allow them to benefit from a fast track through the planning system if they offer more affordable housing and get building quickly.”

“I’m determined to ensure we don’t have a repeat of what happened at Battersea Power Station, with developers unacceptably reducing the number of affordable homes on site after planning permission was granted.”

The National Federation of Builders (NFB) welcomes Mayor Khan’s focus on the inefficient and expensive planning process but is disappointed that his focus seems to be limited  to speeding up the planning process for large developers, who have been accused of not delivering enough affordable housing, The NFB believes there is an opportunity to fix planning for locally employing SMEs who do have a great track record of delivering affordable housing quickly.

Rico Wojtulewicz, policy advisor for the House Builders Association, said:

“This SPG focusses on developers who fall short of affordable expectations, rather than enabling those who typically meet them. If the Mayor has any real ambition to tackle the affordable housing crisis in our capital then supply must be diversified. This cannot be achieved by simply tackling the burden of viability negotiations and the planning process in its entirety must be fixed.”