More than six in ten Londoners support more housebuilding in the capital as a whole, with just 17 per cent opposed, according to a new opinion poll from Redfield & Wilton. Nimbyism is in the minority too, with a clear 58 per cent majority also backing new homes in their own area, against 23 per cent saying no.
The poll, whose questions On London writers contributed to drafting, also saw a majority of Londoners saying that rough sleeping on the streets of the capital, as well as street begging, has been on the rise compared to five years ago.
The findings confirm continuing backing for new homes in the city, with “strong support” from 26 per cent of Londoners, “support” from 37 per cent and 18 per cent staying neutral. One in 10 city dwellers declared themselves “opposed” to more housing, and just seven per cent were “strongly” opposed.
As with other surveys of this kind, the figures shifted when respondents were asked the extent to which they would support or oppose an increase in house and apartment building “in your area”, with opposition or strong opposition rising to 23 per cent and 16 per cent neither supporting or opposing.
But those offering support or “strong” support for new homes where they lived remained significantly in the majority, at 36 per cent and 22 per cent respectively.
The finding suggests that opponents of housebuilding may be more vocal than numerous. It is in line too with YouGov tracker figures for last month which showed 69 per cent of Londoners backing a “large increase in the amount of new housing built in your own local area”, against 24 per cent opposed and suggested a level of popular support for calls by London lobbyists including BusinessLDN for a “step-change” in housebuilding in the capital.
Londoners’ views on the need for more housing may have been influenced too by their accurate perceptions that rough sleeping and street begging has been on the increase.
Sixty-three per cent of Londoners said there was “more” or “much more” street begging and rough sleeping compared to five years ago, while 21 per cent said numbers were the same and 12 per cent said there was less or much less visible homelessness.
Figures collected on a regular basis from outreach agencies by the Greater London Authority confirm the picture, with the number of rough sleepers in fact rising year on year for a decade, except for 2017/18 and for 2021/22, when the government’s “Everyone In” urgent housing programme responding to the pandemic was underway.
In 2012/13 6,437 rough sleepers were recorded on the city streets, compared to 8,329 in 2021/22, with peaks of 10,726 in 2019/20 and 11,018 in 2020/21. More recent GLA figures, for October to December last year, suggest the pre-pandemic trend is continuing, with a further increase, up by 21 per cent on the same period in 2021, to 3,570, and the numbers on the streets for the first time, 1,700 in all, up by 29 per cent.
On London and its writers need your backing. Give £5 a month or £50 a year and receive in return the weekly newsletter On London Extra and (at no additional charge) invitations to events featuring eminent Londoners. Pay using any of the “donate” buttons on the site, by becoming a paid subscriber to my Substack, or directly into the company bank account. Email email@example.com for details. Thanks, Dave Hill.