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Khan to support housebuilders through Brexit crisis threat to London housing supply

London mayor Sadiq Khan will support housebuilders and housing associations in the capital in coping with the financial turmoil caused by last week’s referendum outcome.

Speaking to the London Assembly’s planning committee, deputy mayor for housing James Murray said: “Last week’s [result] was not the outcome we wanted, but the fallout underscores how vital it is we do everything possible to stimulate and support the housing industry.

“There is no doubt that the vote has already caused uncertainty that will make it harder to fix the housing crisis, but our message to developers, housing associations and local authorities is that we will do all we can to give you the support and certainty you need to get through these difficult times.”

Mr Murray told the committee the mayor was keen to issue supplementary planning guidance on requirements for affordable housing delivery as soon as possible, and well before completion of the review of the full London Plan now in progress.

“There is concern over the confusion from viability assessments and we are keen to set out a clear and certain approach to assessing affordable housing contributions from new developments and a flexible approach to bringing that in,” he said.

The deputy mayor said encouraging the sector build to rent was “an interesting and exciting possibility that will give genuine new capacity”.

He added: “It does not have the absorption to market issue that faces homes built for sale, so it may be a new source of supply, which is very important for us to support.”

Berkeley Group chairman Tony Pidgley told the committee an increased volume of affordable housing could be provided were modular construction more widely adopted.

He said Berkeley’s redevelopment of the south London Kidbrooke estate, where some 1,550 affordable homes will be provided, had shown “I can deliver [a home] out of a factory in 10 weeks, and if we have this right it will be a major change to the industry and as we learn to manufacture [homes] better it will bring down costs.”

Redrow director Liz Peace, former chief executive of the British Property Federation, said build to rent had been “on the verge of taking off for seven years but investors are still ambivalent and it needs more of a policy push, the obvious incentive is a new planning use class for rental, which changes whole way you calculate the price of land.”

Ms Peace said the mayor’s long term intention of imposing a 50 per cent affordable housing requirement on developments would cause havoc for those who had already bought land, though could be factored in to subsequent negotiations over site purchases.

“It all depends what you paid for the land,” she said. “No housebuilder will go forward with something that means he makes a loss, you would be asking private sector to take a bath on sites they have already bought.”

Mr Pidgley urged a review of green belt land to see if sites of homes could be provided on “land that is of no benefit to the community that someone happened to draw a line round in 1947”.

But Mr Murray said the mayor was clear “he does not want us to go onto the green belt”.

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