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Infrastructure crucial to new London homes target of 49,000 a year - Lister

Deputy mayor of London for planning Sir Edward Lister has hammered home the importance of infrastructure investment in delivering the new London Plan which sets out the need for almost 50,000 new homes to be built in the capital every year from now until 2036.

“We have to recognise that people want to live in cities. Sometime in 2007 something tipped the balance and over half of the world’s population now live in cities. In terms of population these cities are growing at a rate that they have never grown before, and that’s true of London.

“This year London’s population passed 8.6M, making larger than it has ever been. It is now the fastest growing English region and by 2021 will have a population of nine million. By 2030 it will be 10 million and by 2050 11 million.

“This is the growth, which is why our planning policies have to be about increasing height and increasing density. It is also why we are pro-development. For us to turn down a planning application is seen as a failure to us,” he said, speaking to NCE at the MIPIM international property fair in Cannes.

“The London Plan sets the target – 49,000 new homes per year. And the plan identifies where 42,000 of them could be. That is double the current production rate and it is absolutely key that we do that,” he said. “And infrastructure underpins it all.

“We are unashamed about that,” he stressed. “We’ve got to change the geography of London quite dramatically. We’ve got to make our town centres smaller and we have got to build over our railways,” he said.

The latest version of the London Plan, launched yesterday, details in planning terms how London will be able to manage its unprecedented population growth until 2036.

Key alterations to the London Plan include:

  • Confirmation of figures set out in mayor Boris Johnson’s London Housing Strategy, adopted in October 2014, that London has the capacity to build 42,000 homes a year - an increase of 10,000 from the last London Plan. The mayor is exploring how this potential could be expanded through town centre intensification. This would also help to address London’s estimated need of 49,000 new homes a year.
  • With average life expectancy in London increasing, housing for older people is one of the most important emerging planning issues for the city. It is anticipated that between 2011 and 2036, the number of people over the age of 64 will increases by nearly 580,000 to reach 1.49 million – an increase of 64%. During the same time period, the number of over 90s is expected to grow by 89,000. For the first time, the London Plan includes indicative requirement benchmarks for the delivery of specialist housing for older people for every London borough. The London-wide target is 3,900 specialist units for older people a year until 2025. In the last few years, delivery in the capital has been around 1,200 units a year.
  • Increasing the total number of Opportunity Areas in the capital from 33 to 38. Opportunity Areas are London’s main locations for new development over the next 25 years with significant capacity for new housing, commercial and other uses supported by existing or planned improvements to public transport. New Opportunity Areas have been designated at Bromley Town Centre, Canada Water and Harrow and Wealdstone, the Old Kent Road corridor.
  • Old Oak Common has been designated an Opportunity Area to ensure it can reap the enormous benefits of plans to build a super hub High Speed 2 (HS2) and Crossrail station. It has been confirmed that Johnson will chair the board of the new Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) which is due to come into existence on 1 April  with Sir Edward Lister appointed vice chair. The OPDC has been established to drive forward the regeneration of the area and transform it into a thriving new district with up to 24,000 new homes and 50,000 jobs.

“The plan talks about town centres and why they need to adapt to a digital economy and reduce in size,” said Lister.

Lister and deputy mayor for Housing Richard Blakeway are attending MIPIM to directly lobby key investors and developers to boost the rate of house building.

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