Homes down the track: How TfL can use its land to build more homes more quickly

Interesting plan

Housebuilding is the Mayor’s single biggest priority and he is keen for Transport for London (TfL), as one of London’s largest landowners, to develop “genuinely affordable” homes.

London is in dire need of more homes and using public land is one way to help deliver homes at lower prices. 

However, there are a range of obstacles to overcome to get the best deal for Londoners. 

The London Assembly Housing Committee released the report Wednesday, ‘Homes down the track – a marathon and a sprint for TfL‘ which makes a number of recommendations to TfL, the Mayor and their partners, including:

  • TfL, like most other public landowners, is not a property developer. Journeying in that direction takes time and money, and implies organisational change with long-lasting consequences. 
  • Delivering affordable homes on expensive sites requires significant subsidy.  Many TfL sites are in Inner London so the opportunity costs may be substantial.
  • Small developers need to get back to building homes, rather than just loft extensions and conservatories. TfL needs to work closely with the boroughs, as planning authorities, to shoulder some of the extra costs.

Andrew Boff AM, former chair of the London Assembly Housing Committee said: TfL is gearing up to become a significant property developer, with the help of private sector expertise. In forming joint ventures with its development partners, it is retaining, in the main, a long-term interest, offering it control over what is built, and generating ongoing revenue streams.  

“TfL has set itself the target of starts on sites by 2020 to deliver 10,000 homes.  Our evidence suggests this is something of a sprint, and we don’t think it’s going to make it unless it takes some more radical steps.  Either way, we need to be clear about the trade-offs TfL’s making, to be sure its land is delivering the best deal for Londoners.”

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