Mayor Khan seeks the end of the Suburbs

Sadiq Khan wants big housing growth in the suburbs and he wants it done by knocking down suburban homes and replacing them with two for one.

Sadiq Khan, as a teaser for the budget and a preview of his London Plan later this year, has published what he considers to be the housing targets for London. They mark a dramatic break with the past for where he foresees a somewhat moderate 4% growth in housing in the centre of London he believes that the suburbs can support a 97% overall increase in housing targets. This is a big change in the previous even spread of housing targets between inner and outer London. Of course, there are outer London Boroughs with hectares of post-industrial land that are being developed but that type of land is not available in many parts of London, unless you do what few Londoners want and start taking the Green Belt. For the majority of Outer London Boroughs, these proposals would see an increase in well over 100% in the targets for house building.

Take our Borough of Kingston. In about three and a half years we have permitted just over 3,000 new homes, but to meet the mayor's new target for building that 3 year total for permissions would need to be delivered in just six months. Targets are obviously just targets but there are now real threats from Central Government towards local Councils who fail to meet the expectations in these types of targets.

The real danger for outer London is how the mayor envisages us hitting his target. With the well known large sites in our Boroughs we can all agree on the numbers of homes we can expect to see built. But the Mayor has his eye on ‘small sites’. His expectation is that we will knock down our semi-detached and detached homes and replace each house with 2.2 more homes, effectively doubling the density of the suburbs. Within ten years we could see the destruction of the post-war suburbs that contribute to the quality of life of ordinary Londoners, many of whom started life in the city centre and moved out to our suburban homes to raise families or live closer to the green belt. In many senses, suburban homes are a rite of passage for urban dwellers.

I support the building of many new homes. I do so because I want us in Kingston to shape that growth but I also want us to build more homes because my kids and other young people need them. Destroying the best of what we have is not the way to solve the housing crisis and will not solve the real problem at the heart of housebuilding in London; affordability and the price of land.