City Hall has said that Sadiq Khan and the Metropolitan Police are working on a new approach to exploiting the Met’s remaining surplus land assets in order to support police finances and supply additional “genuinely affordable” homes for London residents.
The statement was a response to inquires by Inside Housing revealing that no additional sites in the Met’s property portfolio have been put up for sale since Khan became mayor last May, following the disposal of around 80 during Boris Johnson’s second term as mayor.
The change under Khan is a move towards implementing his policy aim that 50% of homes built on Transport for London (TfL) and other publicly owned land under mayoral control should, overall, meet his definition of being “genuinely affordable” and his manifesto pledge to deliver shared ownership properties for first time buyers on such sites.
On London understands that the new approach is likely to bring policy for the Met estate into line with that already established at TfL, which is to retain an ownership and long term financial interest in land it owns rather than selling it off. The transport body has established a group of developers as “property partners” with a view to forming separate joint venture companies to undertake redevelopment of its land and investing future profits in the capital’s transport network.
Under Johnson, the main thrust of policy was to secure the highest possible price for Met-owned land in order to make up for a cuts-driven deficit in police service budgets. While some properties were sold for different public uses, there was criticism of the disposal of the Met’s famous Scotland Yard headquarters near Westminster Abbey to the Abu Dhabi Financial Group for £370m in December 2014. A new, high-end commercial and residential development will replace it. However, Khan’s wish to see “genuinely affordable” housing built on Met land might result in smaller sums being secured for police use, at least in the short term.
Inside Housing says that a number of planned sales of police stations, including in Greenwich and Rotherhithe, have not taken place despite being earmarked for sale over the past year, but City Hall has told On London that neither the Met estate strategy nor that of TfL, which has been adjusting its approach to meet Khan’s 50% affordable requirement, should be considered postponed.
Three TfL sites, in Nine Elms, Borough and Kidbrooke, have so far been brought forward for development under Khan and a spokesman for him says: “The mayor is working with the Met to establish the best way to make its portfolio of mainly small sites available to the market to boost income and deliver new and genuinely affordable homes for Londoners”.