On Tuesday, I tried with my Labour Assembly Member colleagues to block the Mayor’s changes to the London Plan. Unfortunately, we could not secure the two-thirds majority we needed to do so.
The Mayor’s changes will now mean that new ‘affordable’ housing will be set at up to 80 per cent of the market rate in London. This will lead to many new properties in London meant for people on low and modest incomes becoming totally unaffordable.
Yesterday was an historic opportunity for the Assembly to reject a Mayoral strategy but a two-thirds majority could not be secured. This was the first time new powers granted to the Assembly under the Localism Act have been used.
In Hackney Borough, for example, where the household median income is £26,788, tenants would need to have a gross household income of £33,720 to afford a two-bed property at 80 per cent of market rent.
And, in Islington Borough, the median income is £31,560, but to afford a two-bed property at 80 per cent of market rent, a household would need to earn £67,600.
Yesterday’s vote is a hammer blow and signals the death of new truly affordable housing in London. It is a complete travesty that this has happened. Hackney and Islington Borough Councils are against the Mayor’s plan as well as other boroughs of all political persuasions.
The Mayor’s changes will make London’s housing crisis even worse. They will now push affordable housing out of the reach of many Londoners on low, and in some areas, modest incomes. This will also drive up rent, increase land prices and further distort London’s housing market. Boris should have accepted the recommendations of the Independent Planning Inspector, listened to local authorities and revised his London Plan.
Combined with the welfare reforms the Mayor’s changes will make huge swathes of inner London even more unaffordable than they already are. Yesterday’s vote will contribute to the ghettoization of our city and put intolerable strain on a range of already overburdened local services in outer London. This is effectively giving up on ordinary Londoners on modest incomes by making it harder for them to find a home that is affordable.