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Sadiq Khan warns of intervention in tory councils over housing

Sadiq Khan has warned London’s Tory councils that he will “not hesitate” to intervene in places where they are failing to approve enough homes.

It comes as an analysis from London Labour reveals that 2,566 fewer homes have been completed on average in Conservative boroughs than in their Labour counterparts since Mr Khan took office in 2016.

His Tory opponent, Susan Hall, has promised to “build more family homes that Londoners can afford”, while arguing that Mr Khan’s “failing London Plan” is filled with “bureaucracy” which has delayed developments from gaining planning permission.

The Labour mayor pledged in his manifesto to create more mayoral development corporations – regeneration-focused zones which currently exist at Stratford’s Olympic Park and at Old Oak and Park Royal in west London.

He has also proposed new ‘Land Assembly Zones’ in places where fragmented land ownership is stifling the delivery of new homes, particularly near transport hubs.

Mr Khan said: “The Conservatives nationally have scrapped housing targets and failed on their affordable homes plans. Meanwhile, Tory town halls in the capital simply aren’t keeping pace in delivering the new homes we need, ripping away the ladder from young Londoners.

“I’ll not hesitate to act to boost the number of new homes for London families, especially the council homes that our city needs most of all.”

Mr Khan’s team said this intervention could involve establishing mayoral development corporations or land assembly zones in areas where too few homes are being built.

Labour’s analysis found that boroughs they controlled oversaw an average of 8,425 home completions from 2016-23, compared to 5,859 for Conservative councils.

Labour runs 21 boroughs while the Tories rule six. With the exception of Kensington and Chelsea, the Conservative boroughs are all on the capital’s fringe. That means they are disproportionately hit by Green Belt rules, potentially skewing the numbers.

Ms Hall said last week: “Sadiq Khan has had eight years to build the homes Londoners need. And he’s not. I will build family homes that people can afford in the places they want to live.”

She called it an “absolute shambles” that the mayor has achieved just 2.8 per cent of the housing starts required under his latest affordable homes programme, which was meant to run from 2021 until 2026. Mr Khan’s team blamed the slow progress on Government funding delays, while insisting the programme will “ramp up” over time.

The Conservative candidate has also highlighted the rising number of empty homes in London. ‘Long-term vacant’ properties in the capital have increased each year since 2017. More than 36,000 such homes – which have been unlived in and “substantially unfurnished” for over six months – were recorded last year, the highest since 2009.

The London mayoral election is this Thursday (May 2), along with elections to the London Assembly.

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