LSE seminar on London housing supply

The trouble with Twitter is it stops me blogging. So for a change here are some notes from a seminar at LSE under HEIF5 today 10 December 2014.  Tony Travers introduction, Nancy Holman summary of how complicated everything is.

[earlier a reminiscence session with Tim Skelton, a retired surveyor who worked for MKDC from 1979 and is writing a book on MK, trying to catch us oldies before we die.  I seem to be one of the few who has memories going back through the whole master planning period.  may add some notes on that.]

Speakers at LSE Cheshire, Tonkiss, Hamnett,Negrini (ex Newham, now Croydon LB) Lammy.

Cheshire No way 42,000 pa will be built. Need is for 49,000pa + backlog of 500,000.

London is very green

Buildings over 100m high, 7 per 000 pop cf other figures…..  Benidorm is top.

Has slide of conservation areas in London + view corridors. Thus scatter of towers.Green belt stops building out; planning controls stop us building up. Thus housing crisis is due to policy failure.

Fran Tonkiss  sociologist, LSE London

Green belt, yes.  But want to stress:

(i) supports mixed economy of supply – mixed suppliers and tenure forms- we have lost this. Mayor’s”Housing Zones” an interesting institutional form of procurement (sic).

(ii) avoid tradeoff between timeliness and design quality

(iii) land arching on large sites to get more developers,more competition, variety. [I would have expected her to say it would help build-out speed but she doesn’t.]

(iv) Clearer stronger direction form LAs on affordability and design quality.

Chris Hamnett geographer, King’s

Disagrees that planning system is the root cause. Mentions developers’ tendency to trickle their completion we should time-limit permissions.  Battersea pass-the-parcel between developers. Refers to key role of public-sector development in peak years of output 60s and 70s. Shows a version of the standard graph (but for UK). [This is rather dull, ordinary, familiar]. Public sector land release. Bicester useful. How about Northolt? Development for whom? Refers to Sultana of Quatar merging 3 houses into 1 in Cornwall Terrace. Scotland Yard…

 Jo Negrini, Croydon LB (previously Newham I think )

Hs everybody been to Croydon?  Did you like it? Tammy waves like mad. Affordability is key issue. Croydon biggest, has most golf courses, some poverty. We are building but it’s crap: in one PD deveoplemnt in Wellesley Road the smallest unit is 14m2.  What about the losses of jobs? 700 homeless families, huge waiting list, Home Office generates themp housing demands. Benefit cap hits us. We are intervening, and actively.  Need money for that, as RSL grant shrinks. They have done development appraisals on every site so they can INSIST on the viability of social housing every block. We are being aggressive with acquisition. We use our CPO powers, sometimes to help private assemble sites. We can build at 2% profit instead of the 20% developers want, we can borrow much cheaper than them.

David Lammy (politician, LabourMP + candidate for Mayor)

High % of graduates, well able to befit from London. But lots of Londoners can’t. Gap widening. FBS important for growth but not that many jobs. So much retail; crap jobs; sub-living-wages disastrous.  Private sector has never delivered the housing London needs and never will.  LSE should come out in support for public funding… Figures even worse than the output figures suggest because of the losses through RtB. Should we create a secondary market with public building for sale, reclaiming a share of capital gain on resale.  Need also to grow shared ownership where people can get a stake. Assets matter. Be careful on design and space standards. Most families don’t want to be on 20th floor with dead lifts. And we must have rent caps.

Cheshire: planning system is root of problem. Land price. Land supply (cf NL and D). Golf courses.  Tonkiss planning system too flexible. Negrini: need to tool up planning offices so they negotiate better: every planner should be able to understand a development appraisal. And we set up an investment fund and pension funds now keen to join in. (Lammy pats her, says “new heard of housing atGLA” (lard).  Lammy says need super-planners, like super heads in schools.

Stephen Hill: look at where the land supply came from: public land supply .  Limited equity product better than shared equity.   Peter Eversden fierce on disaster of PDR. Even laundrettes.

[some lost bits – LSE wifi switched to Cloud]

Lett: how about 400,000 / ha at well-connected points.

Lammy: stayed out of shadow cabinet to protect freedom to speak. Lyons review too modest. London which contributes so much GDP, so much migration pressure from rest of UK.  Mood will change as millennial get older. Labour Party not committed to having more LA borrowing. He’s too much Treasury. Country becoming ungovernable with 5 parties.

Negrini.  I’m so OVER big regeneration schemes. Just the rumour of a scheme brings owners to the table in Croydon. Big old regen schemes not an answer. Break down into small schemes.  Cheshire: planning system so wasteful in the energy which goes into circumventing it.

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Author: Ed

staff in the Bartlett School of Planning and cooperating with others in UCL and with the Just Space Network to support London citizens' inpu

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