City Hall-owned housing developer proposed by Lib Dem mayoral candidate

Rob Blackie pledges to reinvest any profits into delivering more homes, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

Rob Blackie (credit Andrew King Photography)
Rob Blackie (credit Andrew King Photography)

Plans for a London-owned developer to solve the capital’s housing crisis have been set out by the Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate.

The party’s City Hall contender Rob Blackie said a “London housing company” would “fill in the gaps” left by the private market, with a particular focus on publicly-owned land and setting conditions to prioritise homes for key workers.

Any profits will be reinvested into delivering more homes, the candidate pledged. He has also promised to establish a “‘good developer” accreditation scheme, which would only be awarded to developers that “engage properly with local communities” and deliver “good-quality projects in line with the community’s expectations”.

Blackie said: “Londoners are facing a dramatic housing crisis. When Sadiq Khan boasts of his record on housing, people must think he is deluded.

“We need to build dramatically more homes […] I talked to a teenager recently who has spent three years living in temporary accommodation and was running out of hope. Young people more broadly are spending more than half their salary on rent and families are seeing their mortgages soar.

“We need more than special pleading to the government on house-building. We need leadership. I will be a pro-housing mayor and get London building again.”

Similar plans for a City Hall-owned developer have been looked at by Khan. The Labour mayor told Inside Housing in May last year: “Tom [Copley, deputy mayor for housing] and I commissioned Lord Bob Kerslake to look into a number of issues in relation to how we can maximise housing supply in London.

“Lord Kerslake came up with an idea of a City Hall developer, and Tom’s been working on the infancy of that.”

Copley added: “The initial stage is expanding on the work that City Hall’s already doing in the space of development, and in the next mayoral term we’ll be looking to pilot direct delivery through a City Hall developer.”

Khan’s re-election campaign website lists ‘record affordable housebuilding’ as one of his top 20 achievements. It says: “There’s more to do, but on Sadiq’s watch overall housebuilding in London has reached levels not seen since the 1930s, with a record-breaking 25,000 genuinely affordable homes delivered in the last year alone.”

On council homes specifically, it adds: “More council homes are now being built under Sadiq than at any time since the 1970s, with a tenfold increase since Labour took back City Hall.”

Blackie has separately promised to review the London Plan – a policy document outlining the capital’s future development – to be “more ambitious” on home-building targets.

In addition, he has said he would work with London’s local authorities to increase the number of brownfield sites allocated for development, particularly near transport hubs.

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