Michael Gove criticises Mayor of London over housing delivery in London

At the end of 2023, Secretary of State for the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove MP, sent his response to Sadiq Khan’s recommendations for the London Housing Delivery Taskforce.

In it, Gove agreed that housing delivery in London is below the levels needed but stated that ‘this is not a national issue’. Gove stated that London ‘was the worst performing region in the Housing Delivery Test 2022’ and ‘fewer than half of the London Boroughs and Development Corporations delivered more than 95% of their appropriate housing requirement for the test over the three-year monitoring period.’

Gove also noted that areas such as the West Midlands, a combined authority led by Conservative mayor, Andy Street, were overdelivering while London was falling short.

Gove went on to add that he would be organising a panel of expert advisers led by Christopher Katkowski KC and comprising Cllr James Jamieson, Paul Monaghan, and Dr Wei Yang ‘to consider the aspects of [Khan’s] London Plan which could be preventing thousands of homes being brought forward, with a particular focus on brownfield sites in the heart of our capital’.

Gove also used the letter to highlight the ambition he believes is present in the government’s housing plans for London, noting a number of schemes that will unlock 10,000s of dwellings ‘such as the £257 million for new trains and sidings on the DLR to unlock around 12,000 new homes in the Royal Docks and Isle of Dogs’ and ‘the £195 million in infrastructure grant funding to unlock over 6,700 homes at Meridian Water.’

Sadiq Khan responded to the letter on X (formerly Twitter) with a simple graph that shows London has started building four times as much council housing as the next nearest region since 2016 using DLUHC figures.

Gove’s letter seeks to both criticise Khan’s housing credentials, and, by proxy, Labour’s, but also highlights Conservative ambitions and successes with his list of housing unlocked by government policy and funding. He also specified that his panel of expert advisers would be looking to unlock housing in brownfield sites throughout London.

Gove’s focus on brownfield sites will likely disappoint many in the housing industry who hope for a London Green Belt review to allow greener boroughs such as Enfield to deliver more housing; this is of course in line with government policy over the past year regarding Green Belt as Gove has referred many times to focusing on urban densification rather than building on greenfield and Green Belt.

We will look forward to seeing Christopher Katkowski’s report and both Michael Gove’s and Sadiq Khan’s responses to it later this month as the Secretary of State has asked for the report by the end of January 2024.

See the letter here: HOUSEBUILDING IN LONDON

Author: Edward Poynton

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