Among the most pressing issues facing London’s newly elected mayor is the escalating housing crisis.
If London is to retain its place among the world’s greatest cities, the mayor must take a strategic approach, integrating housing with infrastructure and employment needs, not just across London but throughout the surrounding region.
A key question is whether the office of the London mayor holds the necessary powers. The capital’s rapid expansion has seen it outgrow the mayor’s formal jurisdiction defined by Greater London boundaries drawn up more than 50 years ago.
Solving the housing crisis requires accelerated housebuilding coupled with a wider choice of dwellings and tenures to cater for ‘generation rent’ and the rise in single-person households. To achieve a sustainable outcome, housing must be planned in lockstep with infrastructure and employment.
However, surging house prices and rents are forcing many London workers out of Greater London. With no powers over a widening commuter belt, the new mayor will struggle to orchestrate planning across a large enough region.
To combat these issues, the new mayor must quickly build a “coalition of the willing”, joining with local authorities surrounding the capital that want to share in economic growth and are prepared to look beyond local housing needs. Their efforts should complement the use of brownfield sites within London to bring forward public sector land for development.
London needs an ambitious, joined-up strategy for housing, infrastructure and jobs. If the capital is to remain a globally competitive city, that strategy must stretch beyond the traditional boundaries of Greater London.
Patrick Flaherty, chief executive - UK & Ireland, Aecom