A bit of history about the Mayor of London Elections…
Labour Ken Livingstone -the first London Mayor took up his post on 4th May 2000, and London Mayoral elections have taken place every 4 years since. Ken held his position until 2008 when he was succeeded by Conservative Boris Johnson who is still Mayor of London – but not for long! We have the next election looming, on 5th May when Londoners will be voting for their third London mayor – the bookie’s two favourites being Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan.
How did the first London mayoral elections come about? Londoners voted in a referendum in 1998 to create new governance structure for Greater London, and the Mayor of London was created by the Great London Authority Act 1999. Main functions of the Mayor of London include decisions on transport policy, fire and emergency planning, policing and crime policy, environmental planning and economic development.
Zac vs Sadiq
In the upcoming election for Mayor of London the provision of housing has been a key issue for all candidates, with many feeling it is London’s greatest concern.
As we draw closer to the election date it has clearly become a two horse race between Zac Goldsmith, Conservative and Sadiq Khan, Labour. A brief summary of Zac and Sadiq’s proposals to solve London’s housing problem are as follows:
- Build 50,000 homes a year by 2020 by:
- Releasing public sector land
- Creating a team of ‘flying planners’ to unblock stalled sites and speed up the planning process
- Ensure sector is competitive as possible by ‘tackling’ land banking to help smaller builders compete
- Setting up a House Building Academy
- Lobbying Government to grant councils and housing associations to borrow and build
- Creating a council-led London-wide Housing Fund
- Amend London Plan so that estate regeneration will only happen with resident support
- Help Londoners on average salaries get their first home by:
- Homes built on Mayoral land ring-fenced for Londoners
- ‘Mayor’s Mortgage’ to help Londoners buy off-plan
- Ending backroom deals
- Requiring Local Councils to support ‘mixed communities’
- Build houses people want to live in by:
- Appoint a new Chief Architect to drive high quality design across London
- Backing genuine consulting over box-checking exercises
- Helping communities co-design developments, creating better homes and speeding up the planning process
- Assist tenants in getting a better deal by:
- Fining & blacklisting the ‘rogue’ landlords
- Strengthening London’s Rental Standard so 3 year tenancies become standard
- Lobbying Government to ensure estate agent fees are upfront and cost-reflective
- Amend planning rules so that more homes are built to rent, not just for sale.
- Set up ‘Home for Londoners’ team bringing together experts in councils, housing associations, developers, investors, businesses and residents’ organisations. This will lead to the construction of:
- Homes for social rent
- Homes for ‘London Living Rent’ – third of average local wages
- Homes for first-time buyers – ‘part buy/part rent’ on public land for people who have rented for 5 plus years
- Londoners to get first chance on public land
- Homes on NHS sites for NHS workers
- Planning for new affordable homes near new transport infrastructure
- Work with boroughs to make 50% of new homes affordable by:
- Setting clear guidelines for developments
- Supporting councils in their enforcement of clear rules to maximise affordable housing
- Helping councils, housing associations and co-operatives to invest in land
- Right-to-buy receipts for smaller organisations
- Developing public land
- Incentivising businesses to invest in new homes for work force
- Bringing in a ‘Use it or lose it’ policy to end land banking
- Support London’s tenants by:
- Setting up not-for-profit letting agencies
- Promoting landlord licensing schemes
- Naming and shaming rogue landlords
- Protect London’s social housing by:
- Working with housing associations to keep rents down
- Only allowing estate regeneration with residents’ support and demolition if there would be no loss in social housing
- Change planning regulations to:
- Give residents greater protection from basement excavations
- Support ‘tenure-blind’ development
- Protect greenbelt, green areas, play spaces – prioritising on brownfield sites.
- Support councils to bring empty homes to use on a ‘buy-to-leave’ basis.
- Improve planning policies to give elderly more choice
- Make 10% new homes be wheelchair accessible
Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan’s policies overlap with the intention of speeding up the planning process, making more land available for development and getting tenants better and more secure deals on their lease.
Despite this Sadiq Khan is more focused on social housing and putting increased pressure on a higher level of affordable housing. Many would argue that this is necessary, however on the other side of the coin, there is the possibility that many projects may become financially unviable. If so could this lead to a drop in residential development or a drop in quality of new build housing?
According to recent polls (which are known for their reliability) Sadiq Khan is several points ahead, however all is still to be decided on Thursday. The question is: how much will you be affected by the proposals and who has won your vote?