A majority Londoners support the principle of new housebuilding in their local neighbourhoods, but many don’t accept that using Green Belt land or constructing more high-rise flats are necessary to achieve this, according to a new opinion poll.
The survey of 1,151 adults living in Greater London found that 62.1% of them would be either “likely” (36.6%) or “very likely” (25.5%) to support increased housing development in their neighbourhood amid widespread pessimism among renters that they will own a home within the next five years (70%).
Asked about their priorities for new housing developments, the largest percentage of respondents placed affordability first, followed by protecting green space as a whole, while increasing housing supply overall came bottom of a list which also included job creation, family-sized homes and social housing. However, a separate part of the poll which asked people if they thought increasing the supply of homes of all types would “make housing cheaper for everyone” produced a small majority of 51% in agreement.
More than half of those surveyed believed that or their local council (25%) or other “social housing organisations” (26%) were most likely to deliver their development priorities, with local businesses (14%), national government (14%), private developers (13%) and the Mayor of London (8%) lagging behind. Labour was seen as the political party
The poll, conducted by Forefront Market Research for communications agency Forty Shillings found strong support (over 70%) for the propositions that it is “more important to build homes that local people can afford even it it means fewer homes built” and that “we need to build low-rise, attractive housing that people actually want to live in”.
Labour was the party Londoners expressed most confidence in to provide the housing they want, securing 36% support compared with 20% for the Conservatives and 10% for the Liberal Democrats.
The poll follows research by YouGov for business group London First and property giant Grosvenor Britain and Ireland conducted in April, which found that 57% of Londoners agree that more homes should be built in their local areas.
Both Forefront’s Alex Crowley and Wyn Evans of Forty Shillings commented on the mismatch between Londoners’ apparent desire for more homes to be built and the approaches to fulling it advocated by many policymakers and developers. “The industry must do more to make the case for the housing projects they are currently delivering,’ said Evans, while Crowley said they needed to listen more carefully to Londoners concerns if they were to build “a new consensus around what’s needed to crack this problem.”
Siobhain McDonagh, Labour MP for Mitcham and Morden, has been leading a cross-party campaign to have Green Belt land around London stations re-designated, arguing that at least a million homes could be built on it.