Today Boris Johnson is unveiling his housing and planning manifesto at the Royal Institute of British Architects – I will be going along later. Here is what he has to say:
If we are to improve the quality of life for all Londoners then we must do something about the impact housing has on the rising cost of living. Affordable housing must be more than ‘decent’; it must be desirable.
Furthermore, I will protect London’s green belt, and help regenerate the suburbs by publishing a separate strategy on how to encourage sustainable economic growth in outer London. I will protect the high street by securing affordable retail units for small, independent shops.
I will adopt a fresh approach to housing in London to build varied and vibrant communities, not just tick boxes. If elected as Mayor I will be committed to working in partnership with the boroughs to build a better London – and to leave a lasting legacy for future generations of Londoners.
Some of the details look interesting but need some fleshing out – no doubt the detailed manifesto document will be available later today.
1. Help More Londoners Afford Their Own Home
- Release GLA-owned land and £130 million from the Regional Housing Pot to launch a new ‘FirstSteps Housing Scheme’, which will be open to first-time buyers frozen out of Government schemes
- Work with the boroughs to build 50,000 more affordable homes by 2011
- Invest £60 million from the Regional Housing Pot to start renovating the capital’s 84,205 empty properties to help low-income Londoners off waiting lists
- Incentivise the boroughs to release dormant housing to those stuck in bed and breakfast accommodation, by returning the Mayor’s precept to them
- Work with local councils to deliver more family-sized homes
- Increase shared ownership schemes for low-income families by a third
- Protect private tenants from unscrupulous landlords by publishing an online ‘Fair Rents Guide’
- Explore the possibility of a tenant deposit scheme with a guaranteed arbitration period of one month
2. Design Developments to Combat Crime
- Amend the London Plan to attach more importance to designing out crime, without compromising the aesthetic quality of developments
3. Protect Green Spaces and Historic Views
- Reinstate planning rules that protect the views of St Paul’s Cathedral and the Palace of Westminster and reinforce protection around new viewing corridors
- Toughen up the London Plan to prevent development on domestic gardens and use planning agreements to protect small shops
- Encourage builders to build more environmentally-friendly homes in the private sector and encourage boroughs to adopt the ‘Merton Rule’ for on-site renewable energy
- Protect the green belt by using the Mayor’s powers to refuse applications to build on it.