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Affordable housing targets for London ‘unachievable’

London mayor Boris Johnson has resisted pressure from experts to reduce a target to build 50,000 new affordable homes in the capital by 2011

Members of the London Assembly planning and housing committee this week warned that the target was unachievable due to the sharp private house building slowdown.

Recent house building in London has been around 22,000 homes per year, of which around half is affordable.

But experts believe the number will fall to closer to 15,000 this year. Committee members representing the Home Builders Federation, London Councils, Southern Housing Group, CDS Co-operatives, and social housing consultancy Weedon Grant agreed that the 50,000 target would not be hit.

A spokesman for the Home Builders Federation told Construction News that the number of new homes built by 2011 would at the most be only 66,000 in total, including private.

“There is no way in the world you are going to see 50,000 that are affordable on these projections,” he said. “We need to be creating a climate where it is easier to build homes of all types.”

But Sir Bob Kerslake, chief executive of the new Homes and Communities Agency, said the target was a “challenge” but achievable.

The National Housing Federation called for greater freedoms for housing associations and the release of a lot more public land to build on.

Richard Blakeway, the mayor’s director of housing, said: “The difficult market does not lessen London’s housing needs. Meeting our ambitious target of building 50,000 more affordable homes will be a challenge, but we remain committed to it.

“We are asking the Homes and Communities Agency to develop innovative models for delivery in the capital to meet new circumstances, and we will continue to consult with the house building industry to understand what they can deliver and what they need from the HCA London Board to ensure we build the homes we need.”

The bullish stance comes a month after the G15 group of London’s largest housing associations called on the Government to bring forward the entire unspent affordable housing budget for the next three years – around £4 billion – to encourage development.

Private house building funds affordable housing since many councils in the capital insist – through the use of section 106 powers – that half of all new housing is affordable.

NUMBER OF HOMES BUILT IN LONDON 2004-08

Broken down by private house builders and registered social landlords. Around half the total would be affordable.

2007-08 13, 350 private homes built 3,680 RSL 17,050 in total

2006-07 14,630 private homes built 6,280 RSL 20,910 in total

2005-06 19,890 private homes built 5,620 RSL 25,540 in total

2004-05 18,940 private homes built 5,680 RSL 24,720 in total

£5 billion Annual budget for Homes and Communities Agency (national figure)

£1.3 billion Annual affordable housing development budget for London G15 group of London’s biggest housing associations

Source: DCLG

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