The Mayor of London is one of the most powerful people in the Capital when it comes to the city’s property market. The Mayor is able to intervene and approve developments of “potential strategic importance to London” and influence the London Plan, a citywide planning rule book that must be adhered to, as well as several other powers. What’s more, London tends to be a testing ground for government policies before they are rolled out more widely nationally. So the successes or failures of the next Mayor’s policies could well influence the direction of national housing policy.
The average property price in London is £534,785 according to the most recent House Price Index from the Land Registry, an increase of 13.9% annually – both a far higher average price and annual increase than the other regions. Interestingly however, when current mayor Boris Johnson came into power in May 2008, the average house price in London was only £351,704 – an increase of 52% in eight years. The reason for this substantial rise in value is basic economics: supply and demand. There quite simply isn’t enough housing in the Capital to meet the demand. Both of the main London Mayoral candidates, Sadiq Khan and Zac Goldsmith, have prioritised housing in their manifestos and they are agreed that we need more homes, but each differs in their proposed ways of achieving this.
In order to get London building Sadiq Khan proposes bringing forward more land from public bodies like Transport for London. He also focuses on affordability specifically and proposes to set an affordability target for all new homes built, saying that 50% ought to be genuinely affordable. He is especially keen to tackle so-called buy-to-leave and give priority to first-time-buyers and local tenants to buy new homes.
Zac Goldsmith on the other hand proposes doubling home building to 50,000 a year by 2020, ensuring that all development is in keeping with the local area; giving Londoners the first choice to buy new homes built in the Capital and ensuring a good mix between rental and ownership tenures.
Whichever way the vote goes when Londoners cast their ballot papers next week, those with the power to do so need to ensure that London maintains its panache and its reputation as a global economic powerhouse. Quite frankly, this is driven by the calibre, skills and vibrancy of the people living and working there. A good choice of homes, across sale, rental and alternative tenures, which are not out of reach for the majority of budgets, is key to ensuring this.
Nick Leeming, Chairman