Sadiq Khan hails record-breaking housing delivery as he meets his promise to start 116,000 affordable homes for Londoners
Image by Greater London Authority
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has delivered record-breaking levels of affordable housing in a drive to safeguard the “soul of our city”.
In a speech on 15 May, he confirmed that he has surpassed the target of starting 116,000 genuinely affordable homes for Londoners between 2015/16 and 2022/3, as well as set out why he is so passionate about building the homes Londoners need. He labelled London’s housing crisis as ‘a grave social injustice’.
When Khan became Mayor in May 2016, affordable housing starts in London were far below what the city required. The previous Mayor left a legacy of just three homes for social rent in the pipeline when Khan took office.
Now, thanks to the Mayor’s Affordable Homes Programme, both councils and housing associations have been empowered to build the homes Londoners need. The 116,000 homes delivered over the last seven years is the equivalent number of homes as a city the size of Plymouth.
This has led to a new era of homebuilding, with the number of new affordable housing starts increasing in every year but one (the year the pandemic hit) under Khan. Despite the most challenging economic headwinds in decades, a record-breaking 25,658 affordable homes were started in London last year, up from 18,840 in 2021/22. This is comfortably the most affordable housing starts ever recorded since City Hall began keeping records in 2002.
Khan’s decision to focus more resources on council homebuilding has paid off, with a huge increase in the number of council homes started during this Affordable Homes Programme. Earlier this month, he exceeded his target of starting 20,000 new council homes by 2024, with more than 23,000 underway by the end of March 2023.
City Hall-funded affordable homes have been started in every borough over the last year. Greenwich and Ealing led the way in 2022-23, with each borough seeing more than 2,000 affordable homes started by either the council or housing associations. The Affordable Homes Programme has also driven economic growth by creating almost 140,000 new jobs since the programme began.
Khan praised the commitment of housing associations, councils, developers and communities to building the affordable homes Londoners deserve and helping him reach his target in the face of evermore challenging conditions, including the impact of Brexit, inflation, rising interest rates, global material shortages, the war in Ukraine and the pandemic. The whole housing sector in London stepped up to the plate to address the city’s housing challenges, working and innovating together to overcome some of the most serious challenges it’s has faced in recent memory.
Even this achievement is dwarfed by the scale of London’s overall housing crisis. Research by City Hall and Savills published in December 2022 found that London needs £4.9 billion a year between 2023-24 and 2027-28 to deliver the 130,000 affordable homes it needs. Whilst this level of investment has not been forthcoming from the Government, Khan has also used his powers over the planning system to increase the amount of affordable housing provided on major developments referred to him for planning approval. This has led to the average percentage of affordable homes on developments approved by the Mayor doubling from 22 per cent in 2016 to 41 per cent last year.
Khan marked this achievement in a speech to members of the London housing sector at a construction site in the Royal Docks. Royal Eden Docks is being developed by Mount Anvil alongside Newham Council and Riverside Housing Association. The current phase will deliver 262 affordable homes.
In his speech, the Mayor said, “London’s housing crisis is clearly a brake on growth and a barrier to Londoners fulfilling their potential. And fixing it is key to safeguarding the soul of our city.
“The housing crisis is turbo-charging inequalities in wealth, health and happiness. It’s making our city less meritocratic and more divided. As Mayor, I don’t want to see London become a playground for the rich – I’m determined to build a London for everyone.
“I’m proud to say: London is building again. In recent years, we’ve completed more homes of all types than at any time since the 1930s. While the Government has shamefully scrapped its own home-building targets, we’re busy meeting ours. In London, not only have we hit our target of starting 116,000 new genuinely affordable homes, we’ve exceeded it.
“I’ve always been honest with Londoners – that the housing crisis was decades in the making and it will take time to fix. It will be a marathon, not a sprint. But, thanks to the exercise of concerted political will, we’re moving in the right direction.
He also highlighted the choices he made in responding to London’s housing crisis, saying, “This is where politics comes down to choices. We’re choosing to build the genuinely affordable homes Londoners need, not prioritising luxury penthouses for overseas investors.
“We’re choosing to take the side of renters by demanding the Government introduce a rent freeze. We’re choosing to reject the notion that housing is an asset, rather than a basic necessity. And we’re choosing to crackdown on dodgy landlords, stand up for working Londoners and get tough with developers.”
On the urgent need for a rent freeze, the Mayor said, “Of course, we still have a long way to go [in solving the housing crisis]. I’m not complacent. Even though we’re breaking records, I know not all Londoners will see or feel this progress yet.
“The fact demand for housing outstrips supply is why I’ll continue fighting the corner of renters – putting pressure on the Government not only to improve renters’ rights, but to give me the powers to introduce a rent control system for London that would allow me to freeze rents and give renters badly needed respite.”
He ended his speech by saying, “I came into politics not to pull up the ladder, but to extend a helping hand to the next generation, and to keep the promise of London alive as a place where all can live, work, flourish and thrive.
“I will not rest in continuing to pull out all the stops to crack London’s housing crisis.”