The Green plan for housing will empower residents and build an alternative to the big developers.
Our two Mayors have spent 16 years trying to get us out of a crisis of housing affordability with a broken system. Simply setting targets and begging the big developers for more hasn’t worked.
House building in London has become so divisive, with communities broken up by flawed regeneration schemes – Greens have recently exposed that 7,000 council homes will be lost under planned projects – and people on the streets protesting about empty investor flats.
I hope I can help steer housing back towards its social purpose and away from the drift to market house-building being the only game in town.
There are three pillars to this:
First – we’ll create a half billion pound additional fund for house-building by retaining what’s left of the Olympic precept that we have been paying for 10 years, raising the overall precept by 2%, then borrowing against this fund.
We’ll work to supplement this with new money and powers, such as what I asked the chancellor for this year: cutting the tax breaks for buy-to-let landlords.
Second – we’ll create a not-for-profit company in City Hall that will build an alternative to the big developers. It will parcel up public land into plots that work for investors like housing associations, community-led groups, co-ops, councils and smaller developers.
To break our reliance on big developers we need to build the alternative and help people buy homes under new models that don’t involve buying over-inflated land but the bricks and mortar they need to live in, and which keeps homes affordable when they are sold, unlike the Government’s ‘starter homes’ plans for sales at 80% of market rates.
A Community Homes Unit will provide expert help for communities to lead their own plans for their estates. Our new planning rules will stop estate demolitions, and make sure that refurbishment, adding new floors and infill are the default options, with masterplans led by residents not profit-making developers.
A People’s Land Commission will help identify new sites and bring land together to create space for more community-led housing projects and use compulsory purchase powers to help groups assemble sites ready for development.
Third – I will help private renters set up a London Renters Union, and campaign hard with Mayors from other cities to get Parliament to give us the power to control rents.
Greens have developed these policies over many years of working with other parties and experts on the London Assembly.
Darren Johnson recently put forward some great ideas for piggy back homes and infill on council estates instead of demolition, which could add 70,000 new homes across London.
And with Jenny Jones he has also been instrumental in securing land for London’s first community land trust at St Clements.
Dave Hill said recently in the Guardian that a good Mayor: “has to practice the art of the possible with a wide array of interest groups in order to get worthwhile things done.”
This is what Greens are good at – and we have a real plan for London’s housing. It’s practical and soundbite-free and contains the positive good ideas that millions of citizens tired of the same old two horse race are crying out for.