9,500 affordable homes must be started by September if Mayor’s target is to be met

The London Assembly has heard that 9,500 home must be started by September if Mayor Boris Johnson is to meet his target of building 55,000 affordable homes for London by 2015. The first quarter of this year saw just 43 starts – far short of the number needed by this autumn.

During this week’s Budget Monitoring Sub-Committee meeting, Jamie Ratcliff, Assistant Director, GLA said that the targets were manageable but would “certainly be a challenge”. He stated that the team had an

“incredibly successful end to the last financial year, where we hit a very challenging completions target and more encouraging, for me, we got a very large number of starts underway, more than anyone expected . . . when the focus is on, from us and providers, we can deliver a large number of starts quickly.”

To meet the March 2015 deadline, building needs to start on sites by September as it takes approximately 18 months to complete a build. However, Mr Ratcliff said that if smaller projects commenced in October it wasn’t “particularly worrying”.

The Committee heard that if new housing developments are not complete by the deadline of March 2015, investors will lose their grant from the Affordable Homes Programme.

Despite some in the industry warning that providers would not start building houses if there was risk that they might not finish on time, Mr Ratcliff confirmed:

“We’re not relaxing the March 2015 deadline – it’s a firm deadline that’s in the contract. Developers have been aware of that since the moment that the funding specification for the Affordable Homes Programme was published.”

John Biggs AM, Chair of the Budget Monitoring Sub-Committee, said:

“The Mayor needs to up his game if he is to meet his target of providing 55,000 new homes for Londoners by the March 2015 deadline. The tortoise-paced start to this financial year – with only 43 sites begun – must be accelerated at lightning speed if his affordable housing target is to be achieved.

“London is facing a housing crisis with demand for affordable housing far outstripping supply. On behalf of all the Londoners who face being priced out of the capital, the Assembly will be scrutinising whether the Mayor can live up to his housing promises.”