2017 could be ‘bumper year’ for London housebuilding, says new report

2017 could be ‘bumper year’ for London housebuilding, says new report

London has “a shot” at increasing the number of homes it delivers each year to 50,000 in the near future if developers’ ambitions to build are fulfilled, according to new analysis published by the business organisation London First.

It says that applications to build over 42,000 dwellings were submitted by developers to Greater London’s 33 local authorities in the first six months of this calendar year, maintaining a steady increase for equivalent periods since 2014 and far outstripping the totals for preceding years.

The data, compiled by Grant Thornton UK, as part of London First’s Fifty Thousand Homes campaign, also suggest that 2017 could see the highest number of new housing properties completed in the capital for at least ten years.

Government statistics show there were nearly 13,000 completions across the capital in the first six months of this calendar year (see housing live table 253a), and with previous years typically seeing two-thirds of a year’s total number of homes completed during their second halves, London First says 2017 could turn out to be “a bumper year for housebuilding”.

There is widespread agreement that 50,000 new homes per year are required across Greater London in order to keep pace with the city’s rising population, yet gross housing completion totals, excluding any demolitions, have only topped 20,000 three times in the past ten years, hitting 23,200 in 2007, 24,390 in 2015 and 21,460 in 2016 (again, see housing live table 253a).

Should the 2017 gross total for London reach 30,000 it will be the first time it has happened since the late 1970s (see graph at paragraph 1.7).

Planning applications to build housing in Greater London were for totals of 57,186 in 2014, 68,216 in 2015 and 69,477 in 2016, a continuous rise over the three years.

However, planning permissions granted for the same three years were 55,255, 52,004 and 51,743, a modest downward trend.

Final delivery or completions for the three years were, respectively, only 18,080, 23,913 and  23,885.

Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of London First, said: “There is an appetite to build in London, but we need the Mayor, boroughs and developers to step up and make that ambition a reality. Nobody expects London’s housing crisis to be solved overnight, but 2017 is an opportunity for local authorities to grant more permissions than ever before and for record breaking levels of construction to begin.”

Grant Thornton’s figures also say that of 28,925 homes granted planning permission in the first six months of 2017, 30% have been for affordable units of some kind and that the same proportion of homes completed during that period were affordable too.

Sadiq Khan has recently published final supplementary planning guidance offering a “fast track” route through the planning process for developers whose plans reach a threshold of 35% affordable without public subsidy. Research by Estates Gazette has suggested that this approach may have already been having some of its desired effect.

See more of Grant Thornton’s analysis for London First here. Photograph by Max Curwen-Bingley.




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