London’s new mayor insisted last night that he would build 50,000 affordable homes in London within three years.

Speaking at the launch of his ‘Planning for London’ manifesto, which sets out his new planning policies, Boris Johnson said the provision of more affordable homes was a top priority.

He denied that his decision to scrap the previous mayor’s 50% affordable housing target on large developments would hamper delivery. ‘Local boroughs do not respond well to centrally-imposed targets. We will build in co-operation with the boroughs,’ Johnson said.

While he acknowledged that housebuilders are laying off staff and halting construction work in response to the market downturn, Johnson said the affordable housing could be built with a ‘£4bn pot’ held by the Homes and Communities Agency.

Johnson’s planning advisor, Simon Milton, added that new housing developments that consist entirely of affordable housing, such as a mixture of social rented and part-ownership, are ‘a possibility’.

The new mayor has also asked planning officers at the Greater London Authority to examine ways to raise the minimum space standards of affordable housing in the capital. ‘Over-crowding is a serious issue.

'We have the smallest rooms in Europe,’ Johnson said.