With Londoners facing a mammoth housing crisis, the need for new homes has never been greater (16.10.15).
That’s why Transport for London’s (TfL) recent announcement that it will open up public land it owns in London for 10,000 new homes should be welcomed.
As with anything, however, the devil is in the detail, the vast majority of which we have yet to see.
The obvious challenge is how a public-sector-funded transport provider should make the move into property development.
While we need to develop new income streams for TfL to keep fares down, that has to be balanced by a focus on meeting the housing needs of ordinary Londoners. That means genuinely affordable family homes, not just more luxury flats that are only available to the super-rich.
This will be a challenging balancing act but it is vital if we are to get the most benefit possible from TfL’s land reserves. Not adopting a balanced approach risks leaving the capital worse off in the long run.
To achieve this, we need consistency across City Hall departments. It makes no sense for them to all be pulling in different directions when a joined-up approach would deliver far more benefits for Londoners.
We can’t have TfL, one the capital’s biggest landowners, contributing to the affordability crisis while the rest of the City Hall tries to focus on solving it.
Given the lack of detail, we have to look to past experience as the judge on how TfL will approach its new challenge.
From the disappointingly small amount of affordable housing included in the deal to sell its former Broadway HQ, it seems that TfL has a way to go before it finds that balance.
Tom Copley AM, Labour London Assembly Housing spokesman