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[Albert Owen in the Chair] — Affordable Housing (London)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:48 am on 9th September 2015.

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Photo of Mark Francois Mark Francois Minister of State (Communities and Local Government) 10:48 am, 9th September 2015

My hon. Friend knows a lot about the subject and his point is well made.

The Mayor’s London housing strategy includes a commitment to double the number of First Steps homes —the single brand for shared ownership products in London—delivered in the capital by 2020, and to double it again by 2025, helping 250,000 Londoners into home ownership.

Several hon. Members mentioned planning. The Localism Act 2011 gave the Mayor strategic housing and regeneration powers and enabled the establishment of mayoral development corporations to support the regeneration the Queen Elizabeth Olympic park—it is very fitting to mention that today—and Old Oak Common and Park Royal. Since then, the Government have invested more than £3 billion and housing delivery has increased. In 2014, 52,000 homes were granted planning permission in London, up from 45,000 in 2013. Those figures include both minor and major schemes and are consistent with the national total of 253,000 for 2014.

The Government have helped to unlock major regeneration sites in London to deliver new housing. Those include the Greenwich peninsular, with 10,000 new homes, including approximately 3,270 affordable homes for rent or part-rent, 600 student beds, and 3.5 million square feet of commercial floor space. Of the 10,600 new homes at Barking riverside, 31% will have three or more bedrooms and more than 40% will be affordable. Of the 10,000 new households at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic park, around one third will be affordable housing, with many built for long-term rent, as well as to buy. Five new neighbourhoods provide play areas, schools, nurseries, community spaces, health centres and shops, with places to relax, play and exercise all within easy walking distance.

Some hon. Members mentioned changes in rents and the pressure on housing associations. It is important to bear in mind that housing associations generated a surplus of about £2.4 billion in 2014. The sector is financially robust and will be able to deliver the efficiency savings that the change in rental costs implies. To help them further, the regulator will be on hand to help housing associations consider how they can deliver greater efficiency and value for money.

In the few minutes that I have had, I hope that I have managed to outline the number of initiatives under way to increase the supply of affordable housing in London. The Mayor has an extremely proactive programme of attempting to do that. There is a step change in the number of affordable houses being aimed for in London. He is rolling that programme out and making progress. It is incumbent on us all in this debate, which has been conducted in a relatively non-partisan manner, to encourage the Mayor and his successor—whoever they may be—to continue the programme of providing affordable housing in London and giving the people who live in our great capital city a good place to live. On that point, I will keep my word and give just over one minute to my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon South to conclude the debate.