City axes target for 3,700 council homes in blow to Mayor's action plan

An ambitious target to build 3,700 new council homes by 2025 has been scrapped, in a blow to Mayor Sadiq Khan’s pledge to tackle the capital’s housing crisis.

The City of London Corporation announced the plan in 2015 but has now quietly abandoned any hope of hitting the deadline, following a series of setbacks, delays and mounting costs - writes

Only 62 homes were completed in the first three years and the Square Mile’s local authority has now admitted that just 900 properties — less than aquarter of the number promised — are likely to be finished by 2025.

The decision, which was slipped out in corporation documents over the summer, will be unwelcome news at City Hall, where the Mayor and his advisers are trying to engineer adramatic increase in the supply of affordable housing .

The new London Plan will set a target of 65,000 new homes a year and Mr Khan wants at least 35 per cent of them to be classed as affordable.

The City of London Corporation’s house-building programme was billed as its biggest since the construction of the Barbican complex. It secured a £14.6 million grant from the Mayor’s housing investment scheme.

Announcing the plans in 2015, the corporation’s then policy chairman Mark Boleat said: “Without truly affordable housing, we will no longer be able to maintain the diversity of London’s communities, which is an integral part of London’s success as a global city.” But in a fresh report, Simon Cribbens, of the authority’s community and children’s services department, says: “The complexity, and subsequent timeline, of bringing some significant sites forward for development is such that this target will not be completed within the time scale set.”

The corporation said its budget for building new homes had come under pressure after an audit into the condition of its housing stock and the need to retro-fit fire safety measures in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Some of the new homes — a mix of council rent and affordable properties — were to be built alongside flats and houses within the City’s estates in Islington, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Lewisham, Southwark and Lambeth.

However, the corporation said “the greatest potential for delivery” wasat its historic markets, Billingsgate, Smithfield and New Spitalfields. There are plans to consolidate all three markets on a single 100-acre site, but such a major move requires consultation and parliamentary approval.

The report stated: “The timeline and complexity of these elements means the sites may not be available for redevelopment for up to 10 years.”

The revelation has raised fears that other councils, particularly those with far tighter budgets, will be unable to fund new social housing. A corporation spokeswoman said: “We are developing a range of policies to ensure we deliver 3,700 extra homes much needed by Londoners as soon as possible.”

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